RNG sees strong support in the Northwest

By NW Natural | January 21, 2022

The rise in demand for renewable energy continues. A new survey conducted for NW Natural by DHM Research, an independent, leading opinion research firm, shows that 77 percent of Oregon and Southwest Washington voters overwhelmingly want access to all forms of renewable energy – hydro, wind, solar and renewable natural gas – for a balanced, low-carbon future.

Renewable natural gas is rapidly expanding. In the first year of procuring renewable energy for its customers, NW Natural now has signed agreements with options to purchase or develop renewable natural gas totaling 3 percent of NW Natural’s annual sales volume in Oregon. For context, the U.S. is at about 11 percent for wind and solar generation.

Amidst a small list of local governments discussing forcing electrification of new homes and businesses, the new survey from DHM shows that Oregon and Southwest Washington voters are demanding a different path.

    •78 percent of voters value the natural gas system for its critical role in lowering emissions with both affordability and reliability as top priorities.

    •78 percent of voters support local government’s efforts to encourage the use of renewable natural gas. Only 12 percent said natural gas should be banned.

    •73 percent of voters agree that families and businesses should have a choice of energy options to meet their needs and not have those choices limited or mandated by their local government.

“NW Natural has been leading the way in our efforts to begin displacing conventional natural gas with renewables, and this new survey from DHM shows our communities strongly support this approach. Voters want decarbonization of the energy system through a comprehensive, diversified set of renewable energy options,” said Kim Heiting, senior vice president of operations at NW Natural. “Even in places with particularly ambitious climate goals, like Eugene, the survey shows the vast majority of voters oppose bans of new natural gas hookups. And over the course of the past two years, DHM’s polling shows that the more Eugene voters hear about gas bans, the more they oppose the idea.”

Across NW Natural’s service territory, DHM found that 70 percent of voters oppose a ban on new natural gas hookups in all homes and buildings. Only 21 percent support a ban.

“There’s a misconception by some that electrification equates to decarbonization, which is not true. In fact, the number one user of natural gas in the U.S. today is electric utilities using it for power generation,” said Heiting. “A diverse energy system – with renewable electrons delivered over wires and renewable molecules delivered underground – gives our communities a more effective hedge against potential risks posed by more extreme weather, and a more cost-effective way to reduce emissions.”

The survey showed that resiliency is a top energy concern in the region. An overwhelming majority (81 percent) of voters agree that communities with both natural gas and electricity are needed for energy reliability in case of heat waves, wildfires, and winter storms.

DHM Research conducted its survey from Nov. 6-14, 2021, with voters in NW Natural’s service territory, which includes the Willamette Valley, most of coastal Oregon, Clark County, Wash., and the Columbia Gorge. The service territory results are scientifically valid and have a margin of error of +/- 2.1 percent.

At a glance

    •8 in 10 recent and prospective homebuyers prefer natural gas over electricity for heating and cooking and feel it is an important feature when looking for their “ideal” single-family home.

    •Of all the energy emissions in Oregon, only 6 percent come from NW Natural customers' residential and commercial use. On the other hand, electric generation accounts for about 29 percent of the state’s emissions.

    •NW Natural has analyzed scenarios to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 for the energy services we provide. Learn more about the renewables and new technologies we're pursuing at nwnatural.com/destinationzero.