If truth is the first casualty of war, as we learned from author Mark Krebs ("It's a War Out There: A Gas Man Questions Electric 'Efficiency,'" December 1996, p. 24), then certainly the truth has been mutilated beyond recognition.
His article, which suggests that electric utilities have used conservation and demand-side programs improperly (to build electric load at the expense of natural gas!) is full of inaccuracies, misleading charts and other errors. Moreover, one can easily say the reverse: There are many cases in which 20th-century gas utilities have taken ideas such as conservation and turned them into marketing strategies that compete head-on with electricity.
In Washington, D.C., for example, Potomac Electric Power Co. offers rebates on room and central air conditioners and heat pumps, but only if they satisfy certain minimum efficiency criteria, while Washington Gas Light Co. offers an incentive of $1800 for installation of a gas-fired heat pump, with no minimum efficiency requirements. (Source: Washington Consumer's Checkbook magazine, Winter/Spring 1997.)
Overall, we at the Edison Electric Institute have identified many items in the Krebs article that warrant a closer look (see sidebar). One particular subject concerns carbon emissions.