A recent survey from the National Restaurant Association found 94 percent of restaurant owners fear natural gas bans would cause immediate and lasting harm to restaurants. Despite this new data and the fact that methane emissions from natural gas appliances account for less than three percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, some cities and states are seeking to ban natural gas hookups in homes and businesses. This move would endanger local restaurants by raising costs, produce lower-quality food, limit access to authentic global cuisines and deprive restaurants of reliable energy.
Natural Gas Lowers Costs and Prices
The affordability of natural gas helps restaurants stay in business. Natural gas is projected to be half to one-third the price of other fuels through 2050. Moreover, natural gas ranges tend to have longer shelf lives and lower operating costs than electric ranges, making gas ranges 10 percent to 30 percent more affordable than electric alternatives. Many restaurants would be forced to spend thousands retrofitting their kitchen hardware and electrical wiring if entire cities banned the use of natural gas, forcing restauranteurs to rely exclusively on electrical grids. In an industry where 60 percent of all businesses close within their first year and which is still recovering from the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, those savings can make or break local restaurants.
The affordability of natural gas has saved businesses and customers a combined total of more than $640 billion over the past decade – that is, 640,000,000,000 dollars, nearly double the energy security and climate change spending authorized by the Inflation Reduction Act over the next decade. It’s no wonder that 65 percent of consumers fear a natural gas ban would create new costs for neighborhood restaurants and ultimately raise prices for customers.
Natural Gas Supports Tasty, Inclusive Food
For decades, foodies and chefs have been clear that cooking on a gas stovetop greatly improves performance, citing the precise temperature control that natural gas provides as well as the ability to quickly heat food on an open flame. Following a series of ban proposals in California communities, home cooks and chefs made it known that cooking on an open flame is also essential to creating many authentic dishes in East Asian, South Asian and Latin American cuisine. These proposed bans offer questionable environmental benefits and clear economic harms while threatening restaurants’ ability to serve their customers and undercutting cuisines that have relied on open flame cooking for centuries, including many authentic dishes of East Asian, South Asian and Latin American cuisine. These issues go a long way in explaining why 90 percent of restaurateurs who cook with gas say losing access to natural gas appliances would harm the quality and variety of foods they serve.
Natural Gas Provides Reliable, Resilient Energy
Most Americans will experience at least one electrical outage in a year, preventing all-electric restaurants from serving their customers for hours or days at a time. However, with highly resilient underground pipelines and more than $91 million invested by natural gas utilities every day to reinforce key infrastructure, just one in 800 natural gas customers experience an unplanned outage in a year. Even after extreme weather events like hurricanes and wildfires, or in the face of winter storms, many restaurants can continue or quickly resume their normal operations, feeding their communities and fueling their business at the same time.
A Clear, Bipartisan Majority Supports Protecting Natural Gas
The freedom to choose how we cook is important to American households and vital to American restaurants, the vast majority of which are locally-owned restaurants that rely on smart and effective policies to ensure their businesses can thrive. Blanket bans on natural gas are neither smart nor effective and are opposed by 74 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of Independents and 51 percent of Democrats.
Both the restaurant and natural gas industries are committed to reducing emissions and preserving the environment, which is why natural gas utilities are investing $125 million in renewable technologies and energy efficient innovations. There are real and reasonable paths to energy efficiency. Banning natural gas will only deprive communities of affordable, inclusive and reliable energy is not the answer.