Gas and Electric Utilities Have Important Roles in Decarbonized Energy

by | Jul 16, 2021 | Electric Vehicles, Electrical Grids, Energy Efficiency, Gas Infrastructure, Renewables, Utility of the Future

The power generation sector has made great strides in creating decarbonized energy, and is currently 82% non-emitting with significant GHG emissions reductions since 2005, even as generating capacity has increased modestly. Provincial utilities and other electricity generators have worked hard for these reductions, as well as the implementation of provincial and territorial policies reducing or limiting GHG emissions from their jurisdictions’ electricity sector. Federal policies such as carbon pricing and regulations requiring the phase-out of coal-fired plants have also played a role.although it remains as the fourth largest CO2 producer in 2017. The decline in power sector emissions is largely attributable to the switch from coal to natural gas and the growth in renewable energy generation, particularly water, wind and solar.

However, with fossil fuels still generating over 19% of Canadian electricity, and many energy industry leaders publicly pledging carbon neutrality by 2050, the transition toward cleaner energy production will need to accelerate in the coming years, and both electric and gas utilities will be key contributors to this transformation to decarbonized energy.

Many states have prioritized reaching their goals for decarbonized energy.

Many states have prioritized reaching their goals for decarbonized energy.

Throughout the nation, the energy generation mix varies widely throughout jurisdictions. Currently, hydroelectricity generates more than 80% of electricity in Quebec, B.C., Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Yukon. New Brunswick, Ontario,  and NWT rely on combinations of all or some of biomass, nuclear, hydro, coal, wind, natural gas, and petroleum. Alberta, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan,and Nunavut utiliize fossil fuels to generate most of their electricity, depending on petroleum, coal, and natural gas.

The transportation sector accounts for the second highest level of Canadian GHG emissions (24%), and therefore must be a major focus for all utilities. Total passenger transport emissions grew by 12%, although car emissions declined by 40% between 1990 and 2020, but light truck emissions more than doubled. Freight travel emissionsalso grew by 130% in the past 30 years. Utilities are in a position to drive EV growth, particularly among residential customers, by offering services to address some of the key pain points of EV charging, which is currently a disjointed experience that leaves consumers largely on their own.

Polls have shown that many residents are leery of purchasing EVs because a lack of charging stations in disadvantaged areas, such as rural communities or neighbourhoods with lack of access, the “charging deserts,” that primarily include low- to moderate-income communities and people of color. Vehicle manufacturers, such as GM, are working to lessen this issue by providing charging stations for some car buyers, in addition to installing hundreds of public stations across the country. A HomeServe 2021 study of prospective and current EV owners found that nearly 50% of respondents were unaware of utility rebates and time-of-use programs. Additionally, 74% of prospective EV buyers responded that they were concerned about the potential for their level-2 charger to break. When EV owners were asked where they turn for electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) support, the number one answer was their utility, more so than vehicle and device manufacturers.

In partnership with utilities, HomeServe offers utility customers first-to-market EV charger support plans. The EV Charger Protection Plan includes reimbursement for a broken charger and coverage for the repair or replacement of wiring and components that are damaged due to normal wear and tear. The EV Charger Convenience Package includes charger installation, protection and guidance on related utility offers including any available incentives, time-of-use rates and demand response programs.

In addition to offering plans that help to increase EV adoption, HomeServe plans protect utility customers against the expense and inconvenience of HVAC, gas and electric lines, water heater and other home emergencies by providing affordable coverage and quality local service from vetted local contractors. As customers with a plan are more likely to repair or replace inefficient systems and proactively address issues, our solution promotes overall energy efficiency, reliability and safety. For more information, contact us.