Californians for Balanced Energy Solutions, a pro-natural gas grassroots coalition, is employing social media outlets and various "guerilla-like" tactics, according to executive director Jon Switalski.
Gas utility stakeholders and Southern California Gas Co. have coalesced around the existential threat to gas use, Switalski said during a webinar hosted by the Northwest Gas Association Thursday. Power interests are pushing for a wholesale market shift that is "masquerading as an environmental effort,” he said.
"This threat has become more sustained and more of a threat as time goes by," Switalski said, noting that the coalition supports most of the measures in California aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change. Rather than a "tool" of the gas utility industry, the group is made up of large industrial operations, building industry, labor and utility employees, affordable housing developers and nonprofits.
The coalition is pushing to keep energy affordable and to maintain customer choice. A series of 30-second man/woman-on-the-street type interviews have aired on social media since mid-summer.
Switalski said that a counter group supported by the electric industry, the Decarbonization Coalition, has pushed state legislation that he thinks would be harmful to gas users, so the balanced energy advocates are attempting to stir up gas users.
California also is seeing an increasing number of local governments ban gas in new building construction.
"We have a sustained social media effort throughout the state to counteract these policy shifts," Switalski said. "We've seen interest in these issues skyrocket. We continue to run somewhat of a guerilla-style campaign, and we're trying to build momentum.”