These energy facts might surprise you.

Addressing climate change is among the most complex and challenging problems of our time. How we heat and power our homes and businesses; how we fuel our cars, planes, trains and ships: Its all evolving. We believe in a future where innovation thrives. Where the gas and electric systems work in tandem to aggressively lower emissions through a portfolio of technologies.

Today, NW Natural delivers more energy to Oregonians in a year than any other utility in the state – gas or electric.[1]Per data from the Oregon Public Utility Commission, 2021 Oregon Utility Statistics Book.

The energy we provide to Oregonians accounts for about 7% of the state’s overall GHG emissions, compared to electricity at 29% and the transportation sector, which is still the largest emitting sector.[2]Oregon DEQ In-Boundary GHG Inventory 2021 data. Available at: https://www.oregon.gov/deq/ghgp/Pages/GHG-Inventory.aspx

On the coldest winter days, the natural gas system in Portland delivers about twice as much energy as the electric system for residential customers[3]ICF Calculation using NREL End-Use Load Profiles for U.S. Building Stock, 2021, available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.25984/1876417 And yet, electric utilities are relying on about as much natural gas as we do to produce reliable power.[4]In 2022, Oregon’s natural gas deliveries for electric power was 132,356 mmcf. Natural gas deliveries for residential, commercial and industrial sectors were 139,068 mmcf. Source: EIA annual natural gas deliveries to consumers, Oregon 2022, available at https://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/ng_sum_lsum_dcu_SOR_a.htm While using more natural gas has helped the power sector lower emissions, it also means electric equipment is not fossil fuel free. So, if policymakers restrict or ban gas use in homes and businesses for heating and cooking, electric utilities will just need to use more of it to produce power. That’s because wind, solar and batteries can’t meet all cold weather winter energy demands.
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Long-duration storage: The gas system advantage

While the electric system cannot store energy seasonally at scale, the gas system does. For example, if you tried to replicate NW Natural’s existing energy storage capability, it would be equivalent to a $3 trillion lithium-ion battery.[5]National Renewable Energy Lab battery cost projections available at: https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy23osti/85332.pdf Fortunately, our existing storage can be used to store natural gas or renewable energy – helping support the energy transition.


We’re
working to deliver even lower carbon energy for the appliances you already have.

We believe innovative solutions that use a diversified energy system will get us to a carbon-neutral future faster and more affordably. We believe for reliability and energy security our communities need two energy systems – one above ground and one below ground working together. NW Natural is a leader among utilities in pursuing renewable natural gas for our customers and a new rate structure proposal to enable reliable, low use equipment combinations on our system. We are also partnering with global energy companies to accelerate clean hydrogen and carbon capture technologies.

Renewable natural gas (RNG) is not a fossil fuel and does not add more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. RNG is derived from biogas, which is produced from decomposing organic waste from landfills, agricultural waste and wastewater from treatment facilities, that has been captured and cleaned for the pipeline.[6]/*EPA, “An Overview of Renewable Natural Gas from Biogas,” 2021, available at: https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2021-02/documents/lmop_rng_document.pdfLearn more.

Hydrogen is a versatile energy source that can do many of the jobs natural gas does today but with less of a climate impact. It's an odorless and colorless chemical element that emits no carbon emissions when burned.[7]NREL, “Hydrogen Basics,” available at: https://www.nrel.gov/research/eds-hydrogen.html We have been successfully blending hydrogen at our largest facility for more than two years, starting out at 5% and now blending 20% hydrogen directly into our pipes to test our distribution system materials. Learn more.

Carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) is an important emissions-reduction strategy that involves capturing CO2 and storing it underground or converting it to other substances.[8]IEA, “Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage Overview,” July 2023, available at: https://www.iea.org/energy-system/carbon-capture-utilisation-and-storage

NW Natural is partnering on a pilot project that will launch in 2024, using only natural gas and air as inputs to produce solid, sequestered carbon. The solid carbon will be used to make asphalt – closing the loop on emissions and providing additional market value. Learn more.

 

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Winter 2024 Report
Pacific Northwest and the U.S. rely on the gas system
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