Stanford did not do itself or its audience any favors when it hosted SoCalGas as part of its weekly Energy Seminar on May 17. The uncritical overview of a “net zero” pledge by a large gas utility with a history of misleading and even illegal strategies to promote natural gas was unbefitting of a university that aims to raise a generation of leaders to combat climate change, and it cannot have helped SoCalGas establish any credibility or make meaningful connections.
To be clear, I am all in favor of inviting oil and gas companies and utilities to participate in this forum. These companies need to reinvent themselves to stay aligned with our fight against climate change and to stay solvent in our quickly changing energy economy. They need help and we should help them. But that requires an honest, fact-based conversation focused on the difficult issues.
In 2019 over 70% of SoCalGas’ revenue came from residential customers, who are increasingly switching to electric heat with the state’s encouragement.
Over 70% of SoCalGas revenue comes from residential sales. Source: Energy Information Administration
How will SoCalGas maintain their infrastructure while their traditional source of revenue evaporates? If they are forced to increase rates, won’t that push more customers away from their product? As the largest gas distribution utility in the United States, SoCalGas is in a good position to explore paths and demonstrate how this transition can be made. They say they want…