How Much Will It Drive Up Energy Prices?
A few months ago, state lawmakers in Albany approved a $229 billion state budget that included a Cap and Invest measure. This program is designed to cut carbon emissions but may cause painful energy price increases for New York families. The jury is still out on just how much pain will be inflicted.
The program calls for caps to be placed on how much companies can pollute and requires businesses to purchase emissions allowances if they expect to exceed the cap, which will gradually decrease each year.
Unfortunately, the state’s own models forecast that this measure will likely increase gasoline costs by 62 cents per gallon and natural gas rates by nearly 80%. Those are just two alarming examples. In the end, the Cap and Invest program amounts to a price hike on every gallon of gasoline, heating oil or propane; every therm of natural gas; and every kilowatt hour of electricity.
But New York’s cost of living is already too high. We shouldn’t be artificially inflating it—especially since there are other clean energy solutions we can explore to mitigate the effects of climate change. Please visit SmarterNYEnergy.org for more information about this issue.
Propane Vs. Electricity: Which Fuel Is Cleaner?
New York’s push for conversions to electric heat—at the expense of clean-burning heating fuels like propane—is being done under the logic that electric conversions will reduce a home’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions the most compared to other fuels.
The only problem is that, right now, energy from our electric grid is far from clean. In 2021, the combustion of fossil fuels like natural gas and coal for electricity generation was the nation’s second-largest source of CO2 emissions. And in New York, more than 45% of the electricity generated is still sourced from natural gas power plants.
Propane Is Far More Efficient than Electricity
The issue of energy efficiency is often ignored in the clean energy debate but it’s a critical piece of the puzzle. The fact is, propane generates more Btu than an equivalent amount of electricity, so you need much less propane to produce the same amount of heat energy. And the less energy we use, the less carbon emissions are released into the atmosphere. To appreciate propane’s big advantage over electricity in terms of energy efficiency, you have to consider Btu content.
Btu can be used to compare energy sources on an equal basis. To compare propane to electricity, we need to know that:
- one gallon of propane = 91,452 Btu
- one kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity = 3,412 Btu
To make these two energy sources “equal,” divide 91,452 Btu by 3,412 Btu. Your answer will be:
- One gallon of propane = 27 kWh of electricity. In other words, one gallon of propane contains the same amount of usable energy as 27 kilowatt hours of electricity.
Propane101.com makes this simple comparison to illustrate the efficiency of propane compared to electricity. A 100-watt light bulb left on for 24 hours will consume 2.4 kWh. If propane could be used to power the same light bulb during the same time period, it would only use 9/100th of a gallon of propane.
Propane’s Movement Toward Being a Renewable Fuel
While propane remains one of the most eco-friendly fuels available today, industry leaders are firmly committed to raising the bar higher by making renewable propane gas available to everyone. While renewable propane gas is not in wide use yet, its production grows substantially each year.
Just as conventional propane is a co-product of natural gas or oil refining, renewable propane can be described as a co-product of biodiesel production. Molecularly identical to conventional propane, it’s made using many of the same feedstocks as biodiesel. Renewable propane has less than half the carbon intensity of conventional propane and roughly 22% of the intensity of grid electricity.
This means that clean electricity–still a work in progress–is not the only game in town!
Please visit Renewablepropanegas.com to learn more about propane’s movement toward being a renewable fuel.