Oceanside’s restaurants and craft breweries are more than just a place to get a hot meal and a cold beer. They’re where we celebrate special occasions with friends and loved ones, experience new taste sensations, and where we satisfy our cravings by exploring San Diego County’s diverse cultures. Restaurants and craft breweries are also where many of us work to support our families, and they are a key driver of our region’s thriving economy. San Diego County is home to more than 2,500 restaurants from fine dining to fast casual, and 126 craft breweries from nano to internationally distributed brands. And there is one thing they all have in common – natural gas is essential to their current and future success.
There’s been a lot of talk about natural gas lately, but what hasn’t been discussed is how important it is for San Diego County. After all, it’s a clean energy source that is responsible for generating more than half of all the electricity used in our region. But it’s especially critical for the local restaurant and brewing industries. That’s because natural gas not only keeps the lights on, it also fires the brew kettles, cooks the food properly, keeps beer and food cold and the breweries and kitchens sanitary – all of which are crucial to highly functioning brewing and food service operations.
Thanks to its abundance, natural gas is by far the most affordable energy source we have. As anyone who has a natural gas appliance like a dryer, water heater or stove at home can attest, natural gas appliances help users save a great deal of money on their monthly bills. For restaurants and breweries, these cost savings translate into affordable food and beverage prices for guests and higher wages for the industry’s nearly 100,000 San Diego County employees.
Local restaurants and breweries are also at the forefront of the sustainability movement. Many source their products from area farms and markets to reduce emissions, have energy and water conservation programs for their on-site brewing operations, and serve water only on request to help California address the drought. So as we continue to rely on clean natural gas, we are pleased that it supports the growth of renewable energy sources like wind and solar, and will help make our region’s transition to an even cleaner energy future a reality.
But the greatest benefit natural gas provides local restaurants, breweries and all businesses across San Diego County’s $200 billion economy is that it is an extremely dependable power source. A diverse energy mix that includes natural gas ensures homes and businesses throughout the region have the energy they need, when they need it.
That’s important not just for restaurants and craft breweries, but also for our region’s fast-growing biotech and research sectors, where even a brief power outage can jeopardize groundbreaking multi-year accomplishments. It is also true for lower-emissions trucks that deliver local products and buses fueled by natural gas that move San Diegans throughout the County. And for each of the 32 million local hotel visitors last year seeking a hot shower or a room cooled by air conditioning after a long day, natural gas makes their visit to San Diego more enjoyable.
So the next time you savor a locally handcrafted beer, dine at your favorite restaurant, or grab a bite on the run or a growler to go, remember that it’s all made possible by natural gas. And for our region’s future, that’s a very good thing!
Chris Cramer is Chair of the California Restaurant Association, Vice-Chair of the California Craft Brewers Association, and CEO & Co-Founder of Karl Strauss Brewing Company.