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Adapting gas infrastructure for hydrogen costly and dangerous

Editor, Ceres Courier,

PG&E, which has frequently imposed hikes on ratepayers, now wants those ratepayers to foot the bill to test adding hydrogen blending to existing natural gas pipelines. (“PG&E seeks rate hike to test adding hydrogen to its natural gas supplies”). This latest attempt to impose a rate hike is greedy and irresponsible. While many struggle to pay their utility bills, PG&E is making record breaking profits, raking in $2.24 billion in profits in 2023 — a whopping 24.6% increase from the previous year.

Not only would adapting gas infrastructure for hydrogen cost ratepayers dearly, but it also poses major health and safety risks. Food & Water Watch’s research has shown how introducing hydrogen to the notoriously leaky natural gas system would be disastrous. Hydrogen is 14 times as flammable as natural gas and can be ignited by static electricity, friction, heat, and electrical fields. Further, hydrogen may be particularly risky in aging appliances, which are less likely to work with a hydrogen blend, and even more worryingly, we don’t have any odorants that can travel with hydrogen to warn us of leaks. In short, hydrogen is too dangerous for home use.

Thankfully, we don’t need new hydrogen or gas infrastructure and we have an alternative path forward: we must replace natural gas with electrification in our buildings. Governor Newsom must direct our state officials to stop approving rate hikes for the purposes of hydrogen, and instead continue the transition to truly renewable electricity. 

Andrea Vega,

Southern California Senior Organizer,

Food & Water Watch

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