Massachusetts Energy Reliability Awareness Initiative

Massachusetts Energy Reliability Awareness Initiative: The Sustaining Role of Natural Gas

A few years ago, the Northeast Gas Association (NGA) announced the launch of an initiative to raise awareness about the importance of natural gas infrastructure to Massachusetts' economy and its essential role as the Commonwealth transitions to an electricity grid that increasingly relies upon renewable energy.

For decades, natural gas has played a primary role in positioning Massachusetts as a national environmental leader by helping dramatically reduce the state's air emissions.

As the state moves to comply with Global Warming Solutions Act emissions reductions, natural gas will play a pivotal role in balancing energy innovation with continued affordability and reliability - for homeowners, businesses, and the electric power sector. Even as renewables become more reliable and cost-efficient, gas-fired generation will still be required as a safe, reliable, and dependable backstop for the electricity grid of the future.

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"Massachusetts continues to see rising demand for natural gas in homes and businesses, as a clean and affordable energy option," said Tom Kiley, President and CEO of NGA. "The Commonwealth and the region also fundamentally rely on natural gas for power sector reliability. As more traditional power units retire, from coal and oil to nuclear, including several large facilities in Massachusetts, the need for natural gas is more important than ever. Natural gas will also increasingly partner with renewable energy sources to power the grid. We need to ensure that the natural gas system can meet that demand, through both system modernization and - where needed - system expansion," Kiley added.

The pivotal role of natural gas in Massachusetts is underscored by some updated data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). In summer 2020, EIA noted that: "Natural gas fueled about two-thirds of Massachusetts' total electricity net generation in 2019." And between the years 2000 and 2019, the number of residential natural gas customers in the state increased by over 265,000, while the number of commercial sector customers using natural gas rose by over 26,000 (source: U.S. EIA). Natural gas heats 52% of the homes in the Commonwealth (source: U.S. Census, 2019 data). There are currently 1.7 million natural gas customers in Massachusetts.

Throughout the initiative, NGA is working to highlight a comprehensive energy approach that balances the role of natural gas in partnership with renewable energy resources.

For more information:

NGA op-ed in "Commonwealth Magazine" on key role of natural gas in state & regional systems, May 2020

NGA op-ed in "Boston Globe" on continued sustaining role of natural gas in multiple sectors in Massachusetts, April 2020

"Massachusetts Campaign Raises Voice in Turbulent Northeast" - Pipeline & Gas Journal, December 2017

Press release: NGA Releases Massachusetts Natural Gas Report, 6-20-17

NGA "2017 State of the Industry Report: Natural Gas in Massachusetts"

NGA op-ed, "Natural gas producing more jobs, less carbon," 6-17

NGA press release on Initiative, 3-17

NGA op-ed: "Three Cheers for Natural Gas," 1-17

Link to MA natural gas utilities and service areas