New program allows Utah, Idaho customers to offset their natural gas usage

Kylie Hrubes, a Dominion Energy utility worker, checks for gas leaks after replacing a gas meter in West Valley City on Feb. 17, 2021. A new Dominion Energy program will allow Utah and Idaho customers to purchase carbon offsets that account for the greenhouse gases their natural gas usage emits into the atmosphere.

Kylie Hrubes, a Dominion Energy utility worker, checks for gas leaks after replacing a gas meter in West Valley City on Feb. 17, 2021. A new Dominion Energy program will allow Utah and Idaho customers to purchase carbon offsets that account for the greenhouse gases their natural gas usage emits into the atmosphere. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Dominion Energy customers in Utah and Idaho will soon have an option to reach net zero emissions on natural gas usage by supporting projects that reduce carbon emissions, the company announced Thursday.

Residential, business and government entity customers in the two neighboring states will have the option to enroll in the new program, CarbonRight, beginning in March. Those who enroll can purchase carbon offsets in $5 blocks that are added onto their monthly bill, according to Dominion Energy spokeswoman Jorgan Hofeling.

"It's just another way for us and our customers to take control of their energy usage," she said.

The average residential customer uses about 80 dekatherms of natural gas every year. That means they would only need about one block a month to offset their use of natural gas, which comes down to about $60 per year, Hofeling said.

Businesses and government entities that use more natural gas can purchase more blocks to offset their usage. Hofeling clarified that Dominion Energy does not set the price for the offsets and will not make a profit from the program.

The money from the program then goes toward projects that balance the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. The point of offsets are to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that natural gas consumption releases into the atmosphere.

Two of the projects help reduce landfill carbon emission reduction in Utah and Missouri. Those projects aim to collect waste decomposing in landfills that produce greenhouse gas emissions. It's estimated that U.S. landfills released 114.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent methane into the atmosphere in 2019, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It accounted for nearly one-fifth of all of the country's anthropogenic methane emissions that year.

The other project is a forest management program in Minnesota, which helps preserve forests that absorb carbon emissions and produce oxygen. A mature tree has the power to absorb over 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and one large tree can also produce a daily supply of oxygen for up to four people, the Arbor Day Foundation notes.

Natural gas contributes about 117 pounds of carbon dioxide per million British thermal units annually, according to the the U.S. Energy Information Administration. It doesn't produce as much carbon dioxide emissions as other forms of energy, but accounts for about 29% of the country's methane emissions — another major greenhouse gas linked to climate issues.

The EPA reports that residential and commercial natural gas use, combined, accounted for 13% of the country's total greenhouse gas emissions in 2019.

Dominion Energy plans to work with the American Carbon Registry and Climate Action Reserve to verify the offsets once the program launches. Both of those organizations tabulate data from greenhouse emissions produced and projects that reduce greenhouse emissions to ensure that the program is actually working.

Customers in the two states can enroll in CarbonRight online or by phone once it launches, and can drop out of the program whenever.

Dominion already has ThermWise and GreenTherm, which are programs geared toward conserving energy and supporting renewable natural gas projects. Based on "huge participation" in both of those programs, Hofeling said the energy company believes that many Utah and Idaho customers will be equally eager to participate in its newest program.

"We're definitely looking to be partners with our customers to solve some of the big issues that we're all facing," she said. "We all have a part to play, and giving customers programs and options like this another way we're doing that."

Related stories

Most recent Business & Tech stories

Related topics

EnvironmentBusiness & TechUtah
Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com. He previously worked for the Deseret News. He is a Utah transplant by the way of Rochester, New York.

SIGN UP FOR THE KSL.COM NEWSLETTER

Catch up on the top news and features from KSL.com, sent weekly.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast