Electrification - Lessons Learned From Others > Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA)
February 15, 2022

Electrification - Lessons Learned From Others

Are there ever new ideas out there? Of course, but forced electrification (the banning of natural gas, propane, or wood as energy/heat sources) is not one of those new ideas. Some North American cities and provinces, and European nations have already made this move.

So, like reading the reviews of a restaurant or a movie to best understand if it is worth your time or money, wouldn’t it make sense for U.S. and Canadian policy-makers to examine the initial outcomes of these efforts in places where it is already happening?

We’ve read these reviews and have real concerns about these policies – and you should too.

Some North American cities and European nations have already made these hasty decisions and have had poor outcomes. Mandates to shift energy consumption entirely to electricity ignores some looming problems rarely talked about by environmental advocates hoping for the changes.

Do we even have reliable infrastructure to transition our energy consumption to electricity? Further, how will we be able to produce enough energy to meet the increased electrical demand? The second question is easier to answer: burn more fossil fuels.

Until we allow the technology to catch up, burning more fossil fuels is the only way we can currently produce enough electricity to keep up with demand. California for example, the state that produces the second most renewable energy, has at its peak this year only been able to supply its grid with 94% renewable electricity for only four seconds of the day; great progress but still a far cry from being able to eliminate all fossil fuels.

The EU has made large investments in renewables and have attempted to get rid of burning fossil fuels for electricity generation and home heating. The result is an increase in electricity rates. A report from Bank of America forecasts a 54% increase in energy bills from 2020 levels. How will lower- and middle-class families afford a similar spike on their electricity bills? What about Americans on fixed incomes? In Western Europe where the energy crisis is the worst, we are seeing forced blackouts to allow the production to catch up.

Safety should also be considered when making these decisions. Without fuel choices, what do you do when the electricity goes out due to storms? Recently, the Sierra Nevada region of California was hit with a large snowstorm knocking out power for days. Thankfully the county was able to distribute propane as quickly as possible to help some homes run generators. This effort was able to keep seniors’ oxygen tanks flowing, and homes of newborns heated. Why would governments actively pursue banning these lifesaving fuel options?

Everyone wants a cleaner, more sustainable environment. We also must consider the current technology and human safety. It is clear there is a need for fuel choice as we transition to the energy realities of the future. The negative consequences felt by early adopters of forced electrification were forecasted by some but were not a guarantee. Much like being the first person to try a new restaurant, it is hard to predict if the meal will be perfect for you.

HPBA offers this word of caution as the ramifications of such action rear their head not only internationally, but in our own backyard. It is imperative that policymakers and regulators use the reviews of other ‘patrons’ to inform their decisions moving forward.

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