Exciting new technologies are driving utility companies around the world to invest in carbon-negative and carbon-neutral energy sources that lower greenhouse gas emissions. Southwest Gas Corporation, with more than two million customers in Arizona, California, and Nevada, is taking major steps to bring clean, renewable natural gas (RNG) to market andexpanding the availability of compressed natural gas (CNG).
The process of converting emissions from agricultural waste and organic by-products makes RNG carbon-neutral, a major step in moving forward towards a sustainable future. Southwest Gas has entered into several long-term agreements to purchase RNG from multiple dairies and wastewater treatment plants in our service territories.Interconnects between these RNG developers and the company’s facilities are already in the works: Tres Rios Wastewater Project in Tucson, Ariz.; SoCal Biomethane at Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority in Victorville, Calif.; Sunoma Renewable Biofuel Project in Gila Bend, Ariz.; Butterfield Dairy in Buckeye, Ariz.; and Maricopa RNG at the Milky Way Dairy in Maricopa, Ariz. The interconnectswill produce more than 10 million therms of RNG being transported using Southwest Gas’ distribution system and are slated to begin gas delivery at various times beginning in the fall of 2021.
“These five projects are just the beginning of our commitment to make ever-increasing amounts of RNG available,” says John Hester, president and CEO of Southwest Gas. “Customers have told us that they prefer clean and reliable natural gas, and we are excited about the prospects of RNG to further reduce emissions and help protect our environment."
The increased availability of RNG helps vehicle fleet operators, residents, businesses, cities, towns or communities meet their emission-reduction goals. This environmentally beneficial innovation will soon be hitting the streets of Southern Nevada, one of Southwest Gas’ largest service territories and home to the Cities of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson. The company has an approved agreement with the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, which oversees public transportation and will potentially generate $2 million in fuel cost savings annually.
Another quickly growing decarbonization effort is the use of CNG for large vehicle fleets, particularly waste disposal and transit fleets. The benefits of converting vehicles to CNG start with emission reduction. Waste disposal fleets that use this fuel source provide an average of 11 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, while buses see a 6 percent reduction. In 2020, companies that have committed to sustainability by using CNGhave received more than 31 million therms of to replace diesel fuel, which is equivalent to taking 14,700 passenger vehicles off the road.
Utilities like Southwest Gas are not taking lightly the responsibility of building a more sustainable future. These proven technologies, paired with emerging low- or zero-carbon innovations like hydrogen-blending, will lead to significant greenhouse gas emissions throughout the country.