Report: Minnesota groups highlight financial and environmental risks of natural gas

Energy News US discusses Minnesota groups highlight financial and environmental risks of natural gas.

A coalition of 10 environmental groups is trying to change the perception that natural gas is cheap or clean.

With a billion-dollar gas-fired power plant proposal on the horizon, a new campaign in Minnesota is attempting to shift public opinion on the fuel by highlighting its ties to fracking and potential financial risks.

The strategy: challenge the perception that gas is cheap or clean. Or natural.

Once embraced by utilities and environmentalists as a cleaner-burning and less-expensive alternative to coal, natural gas transformed the nation’s electricity system over the last decade and a half, replacing more than 100 coal plants and smoothing the path for a surge of new wind and solar capacity.

Tritsch pointed to recent research by the Rocky Mountain Institute that suggests building solar, wind and storage would cost less than new natural gas plants.  Grid reliability would not suffer, either, the report concludes. If proposed gas plants were all built in the next five years they would “be uneconomic to continue operating in 2035, well ahead of the ends of their planned economic lifetime,” the institute’s report said.

recent report from a Minnesota researcher working with the two organizations calculated that investing in clean energy instead of the two fossil gas plants could save ratepayers $600 million over the next 30 years, Tritsch said.

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