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Readers respond: Energy diversity saved us during storm

The Pacific Northwest is blessed with two amazing energy infrastructures in the electric grid and in the naturalgas system.

The January storm and record demand created significant stress on our energy infrastructure. We successfullyavoided an electric grid failure, however, because natural gas storage and pipelines were available to fuel theelectric generating plants that supported the electric system during this extreme weather. Also critical were ourregion’s hydropower system and electricity imported from the Southwest and Rocky Mountain states.

Our generation mix is rapidly moving away from coal-fired generation to renewable electricity like solar andwind. As that shift occurs, the region is leaning more heavily on other on-demand resources, like hydropowerand imported electricity. But the system must also have natural gas-fired generation and the infrastructureneeded to move the energy across the region.

Expanding and modernizing natural gas pipelines, storage capacities and distribution networks are criticalways we must strengthen our energy system to handle the inevitable pressure of demand during criticalweather events. The same is true for electric transmission, storage assets and distribution networks.

The grid did not fail in January. We may not be as lucky in the future if decarbonization efforts fail to recognizethe critical importance of a diverse energy mix that includes affordable, reliable natural gas. It plays a role inour clean energy future.

We cannot underestimate the critical importance of robust energy diversity, and the infrastructure needed tomeet the demands placed on it.

Camilo Amezquita and Roger Gray

Amezquita is vice president and general manager of Williams-Northwest Pipeline. Gray is CEO and president of PNGCPower.

To read the letter to the editor, go to

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