Utilities should rethink ‘panicked rush’ to build gas plants — study

By Brian Dabbs | 03/28/2024 06:45 AM EDT

Researchers say renewable energy, when paired with energy efficiency, will be able to meet growing electricity demand.

Solar panels face the sky.

Solar panels are pictured. Elise Amendola/AP

This story was updated at 10:18 a.m. EDT.

U.S. utilities are rushing to build new natural gas plants even though they could likely meet growing demand with renewable electricity and energy efficiency gains, according to a new study by the research firm Energy Innovation: Policy and Innovation.

The study — released Thursday — calls on public utility commissioners, particularly in the Southeast, to be “skeptical of plans to add new gas.” The research firm also encourages expansion of U.S. transmission, more regulations like building codes and appliance standards, and expanded energy efficiency programs that include heat pump incentives and other measures.


”Demand-growth is not a mirage, but a panicked rush towards new gas capacity is not the appropriate response to the challenge — better near- and long- term solutions exist and should be deployed first,” the authors wrote in the study, which is the latest in a string of reports from the research firm in the wake of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act.