Don't turn off the gas that fuels California's economy

by Dorothy Rothrock
March 16, 2006
Last one out of California turn off the gas.
That little twist on an old joke won’t get a laugh out of California businesses this year.
During the year 2005 natural gas rates for some firms rose 40 percent to 70 percent and electricity rates headed in the same direction.
Business owners and managers are scrambling to make cuts, delay expenditures or otherwise offset those energy price increases.

At a news conference in February, Dale Watkins, third generation president of a Southland metal plating business, told the news media that he can’t just pass rising energy costs on to his customers for fear it will drive them into the arms of his competitors out of state.

Watkins was speaking on behalf of a statewide coalition Californians for Clean Affordable Safe Energy (Cal-CASE) which is working to educate the business community and the general public about the potential benefits of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

We’ve been lucky that warm weather has kept natural gas prices from going even higher, but the underlying causes of the problem still exist.

All you need to know is that California is the 10th largest consumer of natural gas in the world, yet we produce only 13 percent of what we use. A large portion of that natural gas is used to fire electric generating plants.

That means any hiccup in our supply system can raise prices and threaten electric system reliability. Part of the answer is increasing supply through LNG. By taking advantage of a large global supply of LNG, California can avoid gyrating prices and give businesses a more stable energy market.

LNG is natural gas that has been supercooled so it can be transported efficiently in specially equipped tankers. The LNG is delivered to terminals where it is offloaded and transformed back into a gaseous state for delivery through our existing pipeline system.

This is nothing new. LNG has been used safely around the world for more than four decades.

Proposals to build terminals are in various stages of review around the country with several proposed for California.

With California’s current sources of natural gas dwindling, California decision makers need to hear from the business community that we support LNG and encourage importing it directly to our state.

Lead by the California Manufacturers & Technology Association, the 80 member organizations of Cal-CASE include representatives across the business spectrum as well as associations representing taxpayers, education, consumers, agriculture, local government and seniors.

Please join us in supporting LNG so we can keep the gas on.

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