The U.S. is at risk of relying too much on natural gas as transportation, manufacturing and electric-power industries vie for the cheap fuel, top executives of three power utilities said.
While greater use of gas instead of coal for generation cuts air pollution and carbon-dioxide emissions linked to climate change, the executives said the U.S. needed a diverse fuel mix to hedge against cost increases in any one source.
“Having one focus is never good, just like a portfolio having one stock,” Michael Yackira, chief executive officer of Las Vegas-based NV Energy Inc., said today at a Bloomberg Government breakfast in Washington.
Energy companies are developing vast reserves of natural gas by hydraulic fracturing underground to push gas out of shale rock. The process, also called fracking, has sent gas prices down about 38 percent in the past year, benefiting industries like chemical manufacturers that use the fuel in production.
The three executives disagreed on whether the U.S. should encourage production of alternative sources of electricity by taxing carbon emissions or by offering tax credits for wind and solar developers, for example.
Natural gas is the “killer app” because it’s the cheapest way to produce power, said Lewis Hay, executive chairman of Juno Beach, Florida-based NextEra Energy Inc., the nation’s largest producer of wind and solar energy.