The Tale of Two Sisters — Natural Gas and Electricity in New York and Ontario
July 5, 2017
More recently, on June 16, Jim Sanders, president of Enbridge, addressed a full room at a networking luncheon for the Ontario Energy Network. He shared his thoughts on Ontario’s energy landscape, describing it as complicated and dynamic. Of interest was his description of “energy’s two daughters.” Electricity is the popular, good-looking sister. Natural gas (NG) was described as the boring sister. He then coined the hashtag, #boringisgood, calling NG the boring sister.
Jim went on to speak about the affordability and dependability of NG (the boring sister), he acknowledged that NG has to adapt to changes in the market, and spoke wonderfully about the future, saying, “We know that the future will be more electric, mainly because of the environmental benefits.”
Jim stated that Enbridge recognizes that there are other home and water heating solutions that work in parallel with NG. He called out GHPs (a.k.a., ground-source heat pumps) and air-source heat pumps as that “other” technology, citing the government’s $500 million commitment for implementation of heat pumps.
Jim said, “…while historically we’ve been at odds with the geothermal industry in many regulatory proceedings, the more we talked with them, the more we realized that by working together, we could address the issues preventing the industry from taking hold in Ontario, and help the government realize its vision of making geothermal a practical, affordable, and comfortable option for Ontarians.”
“That’s why we’ve announced an official partnership agreement with the Ontario Geothermal Association, and we’re excited about the model we’ve been working on.” —Jim Sanders, President of EnbridgeMeanwhile, in New York, something vaguely familiar is taking place. Dominion Energy is running a NG pipeline through the town of Dryden as part of a potentially larger expansion plan. Apparently, Dryden has found some degree of legal traction (in opposition to NG), and it seems to be causing some difficulties for all involved parties, from Dominion to New York State. New York State may be listening.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) have heard of these struggles, and there is some talk of sharing the Enbridge geothermal model (in which Enbridge is helping the government realize the geothermal vision) with them. Much like Ontario, New York has greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction goals that make it favorable to replace gas furnaces with GHPs.
It’s in keeping with Sanders’ analogy of “sisters,” we have international “sisters” of Ontario and New York State working on the same challenge toward the same end, reduction of GHG emissions. One solution seems to be common to both — helping to convert NG utilities to energy utilities that sell geothermal exchange energy.
Energy to Burn or Energy to Reuse?
It seems certain that NG companies have energy to burn. By that, I mean plenty of NG to sell, although the pun fits. NG is available in abundance, but that does not necessarily make it the best choice. GHPs use a renewable energy alternative that can provide a stream of income with no source cost.
That’s basically what Enbridge found after doing their due diligence. As they considered their options, they realized that once they are approved as a geothermal utility, similar pipelines can be installed in communities that provide geothermal exchange energy instead of NG.
Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) calls for drastic reductions in GHG emissions. Enbridge has seen how to help that goal along, and stay in business along the way. New York is next, and I think they’d agree that this is #anythingbutboring
To find out more about geothermal opportunities for you, visit the Ontario Geothermal Association (OGA), the New York Geothermal Exchange Organization (NY-GEO) or the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) websites.