As we tick down the final days to Christmas, Reese Energy Consulting today is following a tale of two utilities and the roles natural gas plays. In the latest post-mortem of the failures on the Texas Electric Grid following 2021’s Winter Storm Uri, a new study has concluded ERCOT relies too much on natural gas to fuel its blackstart system. For the uninitiated, blackstart systems kick in to restore power in the event of outages without requiring electricity to do so. More than 60% of the nation’s grids employ gas-fired turbines in their systems. The study went on to recommend ERCOT add more non-fuel options and—wait for it—“test starting dual-fuel resources without any primary fuel.”  This gives us Whiplash.

Back in Mich., the state’s largest utility is focused on its natural gas delivery system. If you’ve ever visited Mich., in the dead of winter, the word “supernatural” aptly describes the season’s brutality. Consumer’s Energy, which provides 6.7 million customers with power and gas, operates 28,170 miles of distribution pipeline, most of which date back to 1963.

The company in 2012 launched a 25-year modernization project of its natural gas infrastructure to ensure gas keeps flowing uninterrupted. Announcing now another $1 billion annual investment in the program, a company spokesman remarked, “While exploration of other affordable, clean energy alternatives continues, natural gas remains the most cost-effective means of heating homes and businesses like Michigan.” We’re calling this one Do-Right.

As Steve Reese likes to say, “Natural gas. Abundant. Ubiquitous. U.S. made. Clean. Affordable.” And yes, he stole that from the one and only Aubrey McClendon.