Powering Strong Communities

APPA President and CEO Scott Corwin Sees Natural Gas Continuing to Play Key Role in Maintaining Reliability

Natural gas will continue to play a key role in maintaining U.S. power system reliability for the foreseeable future, said Scott Corwin, President and CEO of the American Public Power Association, on Nov. 21.

He made his comments during a virtual briefing hosted by the U.S. Energy Association that examined
the future of oil and natural gas.

“From a generation standpoint for electricity, gas has only increased as a fuel source – and significantly – over the last two decades,” he said, noting that it’s about 40% of electricity generation in the U.S. currently. “That’s not going anywhere anytime soon,” he said, adding that this is a key component of overall grid reliability.

For public power utilities and their communities, “they need to be able to have safe, affordable, reliable power to run all those traffic lights, hospitals, smart phones, heat pumps that are critical to modern life,” he said.

Corwin noted that renewable energy generation is variable and doesn’t provide instant capacity on a planned basis. Therefore, natural gas “plays a key role to maintain that system reliability.”

Hydro power is also a “great resource” when it comes to helping to maintain system reliability, but “there’s just not enough of it,” he said. In some parts of the country where public power is present, there are significant amounts of hydro power that can balance the system, Corwin added.

For the foreseeable future, natural gas is “a large part of that equation to maintain that reliability,” he said.

Corwin noted at a later point in the briefing that a number of public power utilities are experiencing significant growth in electricity demand driven not only by electrification, but also “large server load, data loads,” with artificial intelligence looming as another factor that will increase electricity demand.

There is a need to take an all of the above approach when it comes to power supply, “and it’s all hands on deck to make sure that we have it and that we can get these facilities and the transmission permitted and sited in time and also meet supply chain concerns right now, as well,” he said.

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