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  • Roger S. Conrad

Natural Gas Shows its Value

By Roger S. Conrad on Feb. 21, 2021

Plunging temperatures this winter are doing in Texas what scorching weather did in California this summer. That’s mainly proving natural gas is absolutely indispensable to America’s energy needs, and most probably will be for decades to come. In California last summer, prices for electricity spiked and blackouts loomed as the state’s solar-heavy power grid was unable to handle the demand surge. In this Texas’ winter, the combination of unprepared infrastructure, a nuclear plant shutdown, frozen wind power facilities and massive demand for natural gas heating triggered basically the same thing. Since the 1990s, America’s two largest states have operated under “deregulated” systems. Electricity transmission and distribution are still regulated businesses owned and run by utilities. But electricity production and retail marketing are competitive businesses. Independent grid operators in these and the 14 other deregulated US states are tasked with two critical jobs. One is to oversee healthy competition, with the goal of the lowest possible prices for consumers and businesses. The other is ensure there’s always an adequate reserve supply of electricity to keep the lights on, no matter the weather.

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