As the country continues to bear down for another series of chilling snow storms and cold snaps, consumers and businesses alike are relying on more clean-burning American natural gas to stay warm. As the Associated Press reports, “Natural gas is used by half the nation’s households for heating, making it the most important heating fuel.” To be sure, clean natural gas is keeping U.S. households warm.
And in a Sunday story, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports this under the headline “Ample Supplies of Gas Stabilize Prices”:
- A bitter cold snap has furnaces working overtime and heating bills climbing, but Western Pennsylvania residents will pay less than they would have five or 10 years ago as Marcellus Shale production has fortified natural gas supplies. Regional natural gas prices, though projected to climb slightly as a result of the recent cold weather, are still less expensive than they were in 2004 and ’09 in inflation-adjusted dollars.
- “And, of course, we all know why,” said Addison Armstrong, a Pittsburgh native and senior director of market research at Tradition Energy. “Ten years ago, Pittsburgh was a delivery point along a series of points that brought gas from Gulf Coast to the Northeast.” Now, the region sits on one of the highest-yielding natural gas fields in the world, the Marcellus Shale, and that supply has shielded customers from drastic price fluctuations that might come with a recent increase in demand. “The supply of gas in Western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and West Virginia is more than is needed to satisfy the demand of residential and commercial heating,” Mr. Armstrong said.
- “Supply is fine,” [Peoples Natural Gas spokesman Barry] Kukovich said. “It’s larger because of the Marcellus Shale. It’s become much more stable. This whole area used to be affected really heavily by storms in the Atlantic and the Gulf, and we’re no longer affected by that.”
Here’s what others are saying about responsible shale production and its benefits for consumers and our nation:
- “Fracking Credited for Lower Bills; Without Drilling Boom, Gas Would Cost up to 129% More”: Had it not been for the current fracking boom, Ohioans might have been looking at 65 to 129 percent higher heating bills this January. … Based on current usage patterns, applied to Columbia’s January, 2005, and 2006 rates for natural gas, this month’s average residential bills would likely have been somewhere between $234.15 and $324.95. That’s 65 to 129 percent more. Columbia’s price for natural gas is among the lowest it’s been in years, which industry experts attribute to a regional abundance of natural gas generated by the modern era of fracking. (Toledo Blade, 1/26/14)
- “PSE&G will Lower February Gas Bill for NJ Customers by 25 Percent”: Public Service Electric & Gas says it will give residential gas customers a credit on their February bill, cutting the typical monthly rate by about 24 percent. PSE&G, New Jersey’s largest gas and electric provider, said the average customer will see a savings of around $40 for the month. … PSE&G said it purchased gas from the nearby Marcellus Shale formation during the past several months at below-market prices because of surplus of supply. In November and December, PSE&G provided a similar credit to gas customers, that one cutting the two-month bill by about a third. (Star-Ledger, 1/24/14)
- “The U.S. has really cheap natural gas that will help supply the global market,” said Jason Bordoff, Director at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. The United States is producing record amounts of natural gas. (Reuters, 1/24/14)
Yet these undeniable benefits are not for certain. In fact, as state. Rep. Steve Mentzer, a member of the Labor & Industry committee, writes in the Lancaster New Era:
- Unfortunately, the state Supreme Court’s recent decision on the law may remove some of the strong, common-sense environmental protections put into place by the bipartisan law. Act 13 has already generated more than $406 million in impact fees for the commonwealth — even for communities like ours, where shale development does not occur — while heightening oversight. The 2012 law created uniformity and predictability for landowners, the industry and the general public, making Pennsylvania an ideal place for companies to invest, produce natural gas, create jobs and encourage business opportunities at a time when jobs are needed most.