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In America’s haste to electrify everything, we’re risking energy equity, affordability and consumer choice.
Recently, the New York Times reported on transitioning gas stoves to induction stoves as a solution for addressing indoor air quality. I don’t think anyone will argue the importance of clean air, but are induction stoves really the answer? The real answer lies with having proper ventilation over cooktops. Instead of focusing on the actual stoves, sustainability experts should be challenging builders to ensure homes are being built with the best ventilating systems available today.
The science falls short when it comes to legitimate health risks associated with residential gas stoves. The Stanford study released in January is among the biggest offenders. Its findings are based on an extremely small sample size and unrealistic cooking conditions and does not provide a clear picture of NOx emissions and particulate matter generated from electric cooking.
Studies published by Catalyst Environmental Solutions and The Lancet Respiratory Medicine are just a few examples of third-party researchers who have reviewed these issues and determined little to no health impacts from the use of gas stoves. Later this year, GTI is expected to release a special report on indoor air quality associated with the use of gas stoves in direct response to the Stanford study findings and to a UCLA study commissioned by the Sierra Club in 2020.
The argument for induction stoves is yet another attempt by clean energy advocates to advance the all-electrification conversation and eliminate other alternative fuels that are preferred by millions of Americans and supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Let’s consider the implications for a moment. Eliminating gas stoves – which are efficient, affordable, and aesthetically pleasing – would effectively eliminate consumer choice. Eliminating consumer choice would likely result in higher costs for appliances due to lack of competition. Today’s induction stoves are at least $1,000 compared with gas stoves that are half the cost. This certainly is not attainable for most Americans, especially those in disadvantaged communities.
Electricity is a vital part of our homes, and that’s not going to change. However, it’s time for industry experts to acknowledge that there are some gaping holes with the electrify everything movement, including high cost and most importantly, the grid’s lack of infrastructure to carry the increased load on the electric system. Additionally, in most parts of the country, replacing the direct use of gas with electricity in a home will also INCREASE greenhouse gas emissions since gas has a lower carbon intensity than electricity from the grid.
If America truly wants to begin decarbonizing today, then it needs to accept a wide path approach that includes a variety of clean energy solutions, including gas, which is generally preferred by chefs and home cooks alike.
-Tucker Perkins, President & CEO of the Propane Education & Research Council