Energy & Infrastructure

Natural gas is the reliable source to power your life

Imagine a night at home without a reliable source of power.

The lights don’t turn on, your electric vehicle won’t start, and you are missing your favorite Netflix show. Your cell phone is dead so you can’t even ask ChatGPT how to turn the power back on.

Reliability is critical for everyday life, even a night at home where you just want to relax after a hot summer day.

Americans expect grid reliability day and night, and thanks to natural gas-powered electricity, we can enjoy uninterrupted power, even when renewables fall short.

U.S. Energy Information Administration data shows that last year, natural gas performed up to 2.5 times better than wind and solar, which are intermittent sources of energy.

With the growth of electrification – and proliferation of high-load data centers – grid reliability is more critical than ever, especially during periods of peak demand like we saw earlier this year in the Pacific Northwest.

A January storm and record demand tested the region, but natural gas pulled from storage and transported in pipelines fueled the electric-generating plants supporting the power grid.

Expanding natural gas infrastructure, storage capacities and distribution networks will be critical to fortify our energy system against the inevitable pressure of growing demand, said Camilo Amezquita, Vice President and General Manager of Williams’ Northwest Pipeline.

“The path forward requires acknowledging the indispensable role and capabilities of the natural gas system in our energy mix,” he said.

According to McKinsey, in coming decades, a fully dispatchable backup energy supply will be required to ensure the reliability of the power grid for multiday swings. In the absence of breakthroughs in long-duration energy storage like batteries, natural gas is the cheapest and lowest-carbon candidate for this role.

“Natural gas is key to meeting both today’s energy demand as well as projected growth in electrification and renewables, not to mention providing an immediate, low-cost, nonsubsidized solution to emissions reduction,” said Williams President and CEO Alan Armstrong said in a recent interview.

He said affordable and abundant natural gas can be implemented quickly and at scale.

“One of the benefits of natural gas within the power generation sector is that it is very fast-following,” Armstrong said. “In other words, a natural gas power plant can quickly respond to shifts in electricity demand, whereas nuclear plants or coal plants typically run in a steady state and can take more time to adjust power output. And on a capital cost basis, it’s a much lower cost to install gas-fired generation than either one of those technologies.”

He added that expanding natural gas infrastructure is key to keeping up with the increase in load from data centers and other electrification.