Bill Creates, Protects Right to Natural Gas Service

Pending Termination

by Steve Haner

Efforts to repeal or amend the Virginia Clean Economy Act are not the only bills pending at this 2022 General Assembly to mount a bit of defense against The War on Fossil Fuels.

If the City of Richmond decides in the future to close its municipal natural gas utility, a step its governing body endorsed in concept last year, it would first need to seek a buyer for the operation under legislation just filed.

Call it the Right to Natural Gas Bill, or “We Are Not San Francisco” legislation, in honor of the California city and region where the movement to prohibit natural gas use in buildings and even restaurant kitchens is growing.

Proposed House Bill 1257, introduced by Delegate Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City, calls for three years’ notice to customers of any such effort at a shut down, and a fire-sale auction of the assets to private owners if a negotiated transfer is not worked out. It would also prohibit local ordinances that restrict the use of natural gas in new or existing businesses and prevent existing municipal gas suppliers from denying new connections they could otherwise support.

Non-utility gas providers, usually of propane or similar products not provided by a formal utility, would enjoy similar protections if this bill passes and is signed.

As first reported by Bacon’s Rebellion, and in general ignored by the rest of the Richmond news media, the Richmond Gas Works serves about 120,000 customer accounts in the city and the suburban counties of Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover. The proposed bill closes a gap in state law, which didn’t really contemplate the need to protect captive municipal utility customers from such a threat.

The only governing document now is the City of Richmond Charter, which is General Assembly-approved and thus also has the weight of state law. That could pose a wrinkle for this bill, as it requires a successful referendum of the city’s voters before any such sale could occur. The customers in the other jurisdictions involved, Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover, would not be voting despite their vested interest in the outcome.

Delegate Tony Wilt, R-Harrisonburg, has House Bill 1267, which seeks to reverse the Air Pollution Control Board regulation that aligns Virginia’s motor vehicle emission rules with the California Air Resources Board. That was the subject of this report in December. The headline is that by mirroring California, the sale of new gasoline and diesel vehicles will be banned in Virginia by about 2035.

Wilt’s bill does not seek to prevent such an outcome outright. Instead, it:

1) Requires the Air Board to start over and hold a full Administrative Process Act review of the proposal to give sovereignty to California, with the normal public comments and economic impact reviews. The previous legislationa, pushed through when Democrats controlled Virginia’s government, voided the requirements of the APA.

2) Delays until 2030 the implementation of California rules on Virginia’s automobile sales, not 2025 as directed in the current law and regulation.

This situation is similar to what the Youngkin administration faces in seeking to remove Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, with its related carbon tax. A prior successful General Assembly bill authorized (and some will claim required) the Air Board to adopt these related regulations. That takes the issue back to the same citizen board with the relevant regulatory authority.

Another approach, one that has been hashed out in a previous General Assembly session, simply strips the Air Board of most of its authority over regulations and permits. The Department of Environmental Quality, under a director and cabinet secretary appointed by the Governor, would take on those tasks.

A version of that approach can be seen in Senate Bill 657, from Senator Richard Stuart, R-Westmoreland. Delegate Robert Bloxom, R-Accomack, has House Bill 1261 to change the appointment process for that board and the Waste Management Board, giving the legislature some seats to fill. Its final clause strips them and the State Water Control Board of permitting authority, but not of regulatory authority.

All of these measures face a hostile reception in the Senate of Virginia, still controlled (21-19) by Democrats for whom the War on Fossil Fuels is a political touchstone. Only the bill dealing with municipal natural gas utilities and potential local natural gas bans is an issue not debated before, and thus a “bill of first impression” where no legislator has prior votes on the record.


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78 responses to “Bill Creates, Protects Right to Natural Gas Service”

  1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    Ah, interesting times. I agree that existing natural gas customers should not be stranded, prohibited by government ordinance or action from acquiring natural gas. If I had a gas furnace, I really would be up in arms. However, a prohibition on new connections is another matter. Leaving aside the question of whether prohibiting the use of natural gas is justified in terms of climate change, why shouldn’t a government be allowed to prohibit new businesses or residences to use an energy source it deems undesirable?

    Now just a quibble with your post: the Richmond City Charter is not part of the Code of Virginia. It is a law enacted by the General Assembly and, as such, is included in the Acts of Assembly. However, because it is an act of limited application, it is not codified. Only enacted legislation that is applicable to the state as a whole are included in the Code of Virginia.

    1. tmtfairfax Avatar
      tmtfairfax

      How many of the climate change warriors and bureaucrats have removed their gas furnaces?

      Back in 1980, I was transferred to Des Moines. During the Jimmy Carter natural gas fiasco, no natural gas furnaces could be installed. I had a heat pump. Many times, during winter season my electric bill was higher than my mortgage payment and the da*n house was always cold.

      1. how_it_works Avatar
        how_it_works

        It’s 21F in beautiful western Prince William County right now and the heat pump is keeping the house at 68F. Probably because I used about 20 cans of Great Stuff to seal this place up when it was being built.

        I learned my lesson about drafty houses when I had a townhouse in Manassas.

        1. Matt Adams Avatar
          Matt Adams

          Is it tied to a gas or electric furnace?

          1. how_it_works Avatar
            how_it_works

            My aux heat switch. The thermostat looking device is a humidistat, which I was going to wire into the air handler to slow the fan speed when the humidity is above the set-point. But I never got around to doing that.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/59aca1d021bef9f0dd78df024b897f0524e2cdb6fd3c5b254e9ef1e2da1d26bc.png

          2. how_it_works Avatar
            how_it_works

            It’s an electric furnace but the aux heat is disabled via a switch I added because these Honeywell thermostats (it’s a zoned system) are rather stupid about turning on aux heat when it’s really not needed.

            EDIT: There is no natural gas out here.

          3. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            I’m unfortunate enough to have a dual system. Gas furnace for the lower levels and a heat pump for the upper. Just had to replace the furnace went with a 2 stage gas unit, I don’t think the fan has hit stage 2 besides 3 minutes after our power came back on from being out for 23 hours.

          4. how_it_works Avatar
            how_it_works

            Heat pump air handler is probably in the attic? I’m not a big fan of putting HVAC equipment in unconditioned spaces like that. It’s hard on the equipment and wastes energy.

          5. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            Yep, I don’t believe it’s code anymore. It was really a waste until I had it corrected when we bought.

          6. how_it_works Avatar
            how_it_works

            The furnace at my mom’s house is in the attic. The heat has killed the circuit board and the fan capacitor. It’s so much fun to go up there to work on it in the summer, because there’s no place to sit (bring your own piece of plywood to lay across the rafters).

            One of the selling points of the builder that built my house is that they don’t put any HVAC equipment or ducts in the attic.

          7. tmtfairfax Avatar
            tmtfairfax

            In Iowa, the electric furnace was on almost continuously much of the winter.

            And there’s no way in hades that my wife would do 68 degrees.

            There’s a very high-priced neighborhood in McLean where there is no gas (nor county water or sewer either). Virtually all of the homes have giant gas-powered generators. And with Dominion’s crappy performance, the generators are needed.

          8. how_it_works Avatar
            how_it_works

            dupe.deleted.

          9. how_it_works Avatar
            how_it_works

            I could set the temp higher. It is cycling at 68F. Not running continuously.

            I’m well aware of Dominion’s lackluster performance. Thankfully, I have NOVEC.

            One thing you must understand about Dominion is that the prevailing attitude is that week-long power outages are no big deal, since, after all, much of Virginia didn’t even get electricity (or indoor plumbing) until after 1930, and all that storm damage caused by Dominion’s lack of pro-active ROW vegetation management does provide valuable make-work jobs for Virginians.

    2. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Yikes, yeah I knew that.

    3. Matt Adams Avatar
      Matt Adams

      “Leaving aside the question of whether prohibiting the use of natural gas is justified in terms of climate change, why shouldn’t a government be allowed to prohibit new businesses or residences to use an energy source it deems undesirable?”

      What business is it of the Government to determine how someone heats their home? Why does the Government get to determine what is and what is not desirable in terms of heating? None of that is a function of the building code, none of it has to do with safety.

      Clearly anyone who thinks this is a good idea didn’t just lose power for several days because of a snow storm. People with gas fireplaces, furnaces and wood burners were able to heat their homes. Power with electric only, not so much.

  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    Next State Senate election in 2023? Laws to protect markets for natural gas but not to protect solar projects from being voted down? tsk. tsk.

    Probably what this might be about is to get these bills on the floor and then target any Dems in the Senate who vote “wrong” at the next election.

    And I agree, if the Dems are perceived as making natural gas harder to get or more expensive, it will have political consequences. Natural gas is a sought-after fuel in the suburbs.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Yep, some tough votes ahead. Me, I think a couple of Senate Dems could go along with this one.

  3. It will be interesting to see how the Richmond-area’s Democratic representatives, whose constituents would be directly impacted by the dissolution of the Richmond gas company, will vote on Kilgore’s bill. It’s one thing to piss off someone else’s voters, quite another to piss off your own. This would be a huge issue for anyone choosing to run against them.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Our guy is VanValkenburg under the old map, Willett under the new. Guess we write to both. 🙂

  4. Has anyone done an analysis of the energy cost difference for the largely minority communities of Richmond once natural gas goes away?

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Not just minority, but low-income rentals that use space heaters because landlords haven’t fixed the heat… in years.

      1. how_it_works Avatar
        how_it_works

        The best place to skimp on construction is insulation. Once the drywall goes up, nobody will be the wiser.

        Note: Be sure to install insulation in stud bays where there is an outlet box. It’s easy to check for insulation in the gap between the outlet box and the drywall.

  5. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Back when GW got all excited by hydrogen (breathing it?) I heard a guy give a blue sky talk about how it could be used for households.

    His idea was that cracking NatGas to get hydrogen could be done in your garage. NatGas comes in, gets cracked, hydrogen is used to fuel your car, heat your house and water, cook your food, and the C and CO2 from in-home cracking would be piped back to, in our case, VaNatGas.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      There are hydrogen fueling stations right now so that aspect has been addressed and will more so as we go along.

      In terms of “cracking” it… probably not from nat gas … but it takes power to do it , enough so it’s not cost-effective at this point.

      Will it remain an unsolvable problem for the next 40 years? I’m betting not but who knows. If it DOES get
      solved, all of this anti stuff will end up like a fart in the wind.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        He was, as I said, going “blue sky”. Hey, where would we be without the Jetsons?

    2. You were around at the same time as George Washington?

    3. how_it_works Avatar
      how_it_works

      That CO2 could be used in a growing operation…

      1. Indeed it could…

      2. Matt Adams Avatar
        Matt Adams

        The problem with the above stated is that until 2020 the CH bond couldn’t be broken. Now you just need to get your hands on iridium to do it.

        Cracking of NG just gives you smaller hydrocarbons (propane butane and the like).

        1. how_it_works Avatar
          how_it_works

          I say burn it as it is and plant more trees!

          1. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            To appease environmentalist everyone needs to convert to LP gas. Get that 1000 gallon tank in your back yard and a refill scheduled. LP burns clean and considered “green”.

            Next we need everyone to trade in their vehicles for propane driven ones. Chevy makes a 302 that you can run on LP.

          2. how_it_works Avatar
            how_it_works

            I only use LP for two things: (1) a gas cooktop and (2) a gas fireplace. I don’t use the gas cooktop that often and I’ve used the gas fireplace maybe twice in 3 years. It would maybe help to keep the house warm in a long-term power outage, which hasn’t happened here yet (probably because it’s NOVEC here, not Dominion).

          3. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            I know someone who has an LP backup house Generac generator in SC. We also used LP on the railroad for all backup applications. Big tanks are easier to place than say a gas line.

          4. how_it_works Avatar
            how_it_works

            LP also lasts pretty much forever unlike diesel or gasoline, so it’s perfect for backup use. Disadvantage to LP for heating compared to NG is that LP prices vary a lot more than NG prices.

          5. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            Yeah you get hosed on that plus with NG you’ve got a constant supply unless it’s getting diverted like they had in Texas.

            NG is LP cheap and dirty cousin. NG you generate CO2 and Methane on combustion LP you generate CO and water vapor.

            I recall that the Amish use LP driven appliances as that “doesn’t” count against their beliefs.

          6. how_it_works Avatar
            how_it_works

            Properly burning appliances either LP or NG don’t produce anything more than CO2 and water vapor, and a very small amount of CO (probably 100s of PPM if even that).

            There is a youtube channel, the guy is an HVAC tech, and I’ve seen him use a Testo combustion analyzer to make sure that the appliance (usually a boiler or furnace) isn’t generating too much CO.

        2. energyNOW_Fan Avatar
          energyNOW_Fan

          ?Those are bigger hydrocarbons. There is development of methane to carbon and H2, but not commercial yet, sort of like the batteries that will save the day.

          1. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            I was reading an article where they finally figured out how to crack the CH bond. Yeah, it didn’t sound very commercial at this point, I mean unless iridium is something that everyone can get their hands on.

        3. energyNOW_Fan Avatar
          energyNOW_Fan

          ?Those are bigger hydrocarbons. There is development of methane to carbon and H2, but not commercial yet, sort of like the batteries that will save the day.

        4. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          NG is methane. Can’t get a smaller hydrocarbon. Your ignorance is showing.

          This explains why you threw the LP stuff. Here, for your edification.
          1) NG is methane. NG is a nick (to give it respectability) among the not-so-swift climate change deniers.
          2) LP are the chains just above butane to the solids. It’s an STP thing.
          3) LPG is an American nick for propane, although the first short chain gases will be in liquid form under pressure.
          4) You can crack methane, contrary to your statement, and you WON’T (can’t) get other hydrocarbons. There are 3 ways, high heat and pressure, lower heat and pressure with metal catalysts, and very low heat and pressure with a noble gas catalyst (say argon).

          1. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            1) Methane is only one of the components that make up NG and CH4 isn’t a small hydrocarbon. C8H20Cl2N4O2

            2) LP is hydrocarbon mixture of butane, propane and propylene. C3H8 and C4H10

            3) Where did I say you couldn’t crack methane? I said you couldn’t crack a CH bond until 2020 and that still requires iridium.

            As per usual the only ignorance on display is you.

      3. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        I’m all FOR that! Got lamps?

        1. how_it_works Avatar
          how_it_works

          I’m sure there’s some commercially-available LED lamps that would work perfectly for the application!

  6. LarrytheG Avatar

    interesting counter viewpoint and run down of associated bills:

    Looking backward, Virginia Republicans attack climate action and coddle coal

    https://powerforthepeopleva.com/2022/01/21/looking-backward-virginia-republicans-attack-climate-action-and-coddle-coal/

  7. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Darn right that Richmond ain’t San Francisco! For one thing it’s warmer in Richmond in January than San Fran in August.

    Come spring I’m dumping my NatGas furnance & AC for a heat pump with gas emergency heat.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      But still a gas backup then….climate criminal!

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        What do I do with the pipe and the meter? Cheaper all the way around to pay VaNatGas $15/month to not use gas than have the lawn shredded to yank it out. Besides, the spousal unit has been bugging me for gas cooking.

    2. energyNOW_Fan Avatar
      energyNOW_Fan

      Wait to see if Biden’s energy/climate plan gets approved separately. On paper I believe it may subsidize conversions to heat pump.

  8. LarrytheG Avatar

    I wonder if the GOP will support hydrogen as a replacement fuel?

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d54014e8ea6855fc7e50976d82b39a9f30c05010c33f47b51f1e8d9b9afdd654.jpg

    this is one of those things where we already know much about hydrogen and it’s the cost itself is the issue.

    If hydrogen becomes cost-competitive with natural gas – the game changes

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      What I support is an open and honest market so if hydrogen cost and safety issues can be resolved, no objections. But depending on how you create and move it, might not be the GHG panacea you think. Complicated.

    2. Hydrogen will never become cost-competitive with anything. It’s inherently dangerous. Do-gooders will regulate it to death.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Won’t need to regulate it…

        There’s only 1600 miles of hydrogen pipelines, located at and about refineries. The 2.3 million miles of NatGas pipes should not carry the stuff because it brittles steel and welds, plus compressing it it tough.

        In addition, currently there is only two ways to get it;
        1) cracking hydrocarbons, producing much C & CO2, and
        2) green, but energy consuming, electrolysis.

        1. how_it_works Avatar
          how_it_works

          Hydrogen can be made safe for transport via pipelines by adding some carbon atoms to it.

          1. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            There’s that carbon stuff again.
            Still lots of problems to overcome with hydrogen for mass consumption. Not that they can’t; they’re working on it.

          2. LarrytheG Avatar

            lots of folks working on it. If a solar farm can be used to produce hydrogen, the game changes and I bet anti-solar folks will change their stripes!

          3. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            Ironically this is the opposite of what you were trying to argue yesterday.

            It’s pretty funny that you’re repeating what you were told yesterday as if you had previously had that knowledge.

          4. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            YAFOS.

            Yesterday, in response to Steve’s piping suggestion, I said it WILL HAVE TO (future tense) be made safer, i.e. Stinkum.

            To wit(less): “They add “stink’um” to NatGas. Probably will with H too for the same reason.”

          5. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            “Nancy Naive Matt Adams • 25 minutes ago • edited
            YAFOS.

            Yesterday, in response to Steve’s piping suggestion, I said it WILL HAVE TO (future tense) be made safer, i.e. Stinkum.

            To wit(less): “They add “stink’um” to NatGas. Probably will with H too for the same reason.””

            That’s a lovely revisionist remembering of the conversation, but wrong as per usual for you.

            To wit you were informed that mercaptan (methanethiol what causes the sulfur smell) can’t be added to hydrogen because it’s chemically too heavy.

            Also NG or LP are completely different from H2 chemically and otherwise. You can see a flame from NG and LP, you don’t from H2.

            Again, we arrive at a situation where you refuse to admit you were wrong. Now, following it up with taking the said information you were denying and passing it off as your own. That’s called plagiarism and your comment is plagiarism because it’s the first result of a Google search.

          6. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            There ya go again, riding a tangent of your own creation. I never said “mercaptan”, nor suggested it had to be the same stuff, just “stinkum”

            And I never suggested, mention, hinted at, or implied LP and since this is the first time (yet another tanget) it was mentioned AT ALL, can we assume you mean LPG?

            The only thing I care about CNG v LPG is the latter blows the bottom out of your boat, and the former takes the doghouse off.

            Oh, and I forgot. If I take the boat to the Med, I have to replace the stove aperature to switch to European preference for butane v propane.

          7. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            “There ya go again, riding a tangent of your own creation. I never said “mercaptan”, nor suggested it had to be the same stuff, just “stinkum””

            Correcting you and using the correct term for a product that is added to NG and LP isn’t a tangent. It’s called educating you, which clearly is lost cause as you believe you already know everything.

            NG and LP for all intents and purpose are the same, they are both carbon based odor-less color-less gases. NG contains LP, LP is the byproduct of crude oil and NG. LP is “green” NG isn’t.

            If you don’t know what LP is maybe you should refrain from discussions about NG, LP and H2.

          8. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Wow! I am just so impressed.

          9. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            It’s Friday… He Who Shall Not Be Named needs to clear his desk for the weekend…

          10. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            “Eric the half a troll Nancy Naive • 42 minutes ago
            It’s Friday… He Who Shall Not Be Named needs to clear his desk for the weekend…”

            I find it highly ironic that you two are so fragile that you need to talk about me to one another. It really says more about yourselves than it does about me.

          11. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            All those brains? And in an eleven-year old too.

            Have no idea what brainfart caused the suddenly thrown in LPG in the mix. Everyone’s talking about methane and *BOOM* suddenly it’s the heavier stuff. And then he claims the hydrogen is different. I dunno. Must’ve been bored.

            I can only assume the “green” means something.

            So, any plans for the weekend? Skiing? On I-95?

          12. energyNOW_Fan Avatar
            energyNOW_Fan

            Sure…I believe Fairfax is converting the landfill to a slope right off I95…not sure when.

          13. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            I don’t think you’ll ever see a cost effective use of Hydrogen outside of where it is used now. The price disparity unless the other commodity is inflated will always be there.

          14. Well done!

        2. how_it_works Avatar
          how_it_works

          Hydrogen can be made safe for transport via pipelines by adding some carbon atoms to it.

      2. energyNOW_Fan Avatar
        energyNOW_Fan

        I worked with H2 my whole life. No big deal. Obviously flammable gas like methane.

    3. tmtfairfax Avatar
      tmtfairfax

      If hydrogen is a good substitute, in terms of price, safety and efficiency, won’t the market work? Hydrogen will be used. What does a legislator — federal, state or local — know about the use of hydrogen or other fuels? Only what they are told by interested lobbyists.

      The goal is to be woke and force other people to live miserable lives in small apartment and take public transit everywhere, standing cheek to jowl and breathing each other’s germs. Meanwhile, the leaders will still live in their big houses (often multiple) and fly private jets to global warming conferences.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        would you support subsidies for nukes?

      2. energyNOW_Fan Avatar
        energyNOW_Fan

        Yes H2 has long been thought the ideal fuel.

  9. If the UN would get off it’s lazy butt and declare access to natural gas a basic human right we wouldn’t need this law…

  10. energyNOW_Fan Avatar
    energyNOW_Fan

    With all the “interest” and disinformation on H2 the last couple days, maybe Jim will let me post an article I have not yet submitted to him on Blue H2.

  11. […] same meeting where the right to natural gas bill could return should include two other bills which were approved on party-line votes in subcommittee […]

  12. […] discussion on this blog lately about promulgating or repealing regulations in Virginia.  As a recent post of Steve Haner indicates, the regulatory process also figures prominently in bills being introduced […]

  13. […] created a right to use gas, restricted local government authority to prevent it, and spelled out the steps any local […]

  14. […] H 1257 (Kilgore, R-Scott)–Bars public entities from adopting an ordinance, resolution, or other requirement that limits or prohibits customers from acquiring natural gas service and supply from both utility and non-utility gas companies. [See BR discussion here.] […]

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