Report: It’s time to electrify Virginia

The Virginia Mercury discusses whether it’s time to electrify Virginia.

In Virginia, the time to adopt policies to promote electricity over natural gas has come. Widespread electrification of space heating, water heating and cooking has the potential to significantly reduce CO2 emissions and improve public health.

As our electric grid’s renewable energy has grown, the climate argument favoring natural gas has evaporated. Years ago, natural gas was branded a “clean” fuel from a pollution perspective, and when compared to coal, it does have some environmental benefits.

However, recent scientific research has found that the climate impact of natural gas is much worse than originally thought. In addition, the increase of wind and solar on the grid means that comparing natural gas to electricity no longer means simply comparing gas with coal.

For example, using the most recent CO2 emissions data for electricity in Virginia, heating a home with a minimum-efficiency electric heat pump would yield at least a 30 percent reduction in CO2 emissions compared to the most efficient gas furnace money can buy. More advanced electric heat pumps can yield CO2 pollution reductions close to 50 percent on today’s grid, and as our electricity gets still cleaner between now and 2050, the CO2 pollution reductions from electrification will get better and better.

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