Yesterday, on C-Span’s morning news and discussion show, Washington Journal, Nick Stavropoulos, head of National Grid’s U.S. gas distribution business, talked about the importance of the nation’s natural gas system and how natural gas plays a significant role in America’s low carbon future.
In a wide ranging discussion that touched on a variety of issues, Nick explained how natural gas utilities work, how customer bills are structured, key issues surrounding supply and demand, and answered several questions from callers.
A popular topic was alternative power sources, including the role of wind turbines. The point was made that, while a growing and vital portion of America’s power supply, greener alternatives like wind and solar are not yet fully reliable. Additionally, the power generated from such sources still needs to be transmitted to the end user. Nick talked about National Grid’s contract with Cape Wind to develop an extensive wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod to help power Massachusetts customers.
One caller asked about distributed generation and cogeneration, using natural gas to power a site-located turbine to generate electricity and at the same time capturing the resulting heat and using that as steam for local heating purposes. National Grid has used this technology for some time in limited situations, but more development is needed. Nick noted that there are some residential customer locations using cogeneration, but it’s still on a small scale. He also stressed that government support is needed for development of natural gas cogeneration and renewable gas technology.
Discussion also touched on shale gas and where it fits in with the overall domestic natural gas supply. Addressing the topical issue of hydrofracking, Nick clarified that it is not a new technology – in fact, it has been in use successfully for decades — and he pointed out on several occasions that well funded regulators and transparency from all sectors of the industry are vital to oversight and effective regulation of natural gas development.
The video is embedded above and you can watch the interview at C-Span.