Appalachian Basin

Electric Slide in the Electric City, Thanks to the Marcellus

By now you are probably well aware of the fact that Marcellus shale production is delivering enormous economic benefits, from creating thousands of new jobs to facilitating a reinvigorated manufacturing sector. And a new report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) adds another layer to the Marcellus Miracle that most families will happily welcome: producing gas from the Marcellus shale is lowering monthly electricity prices.

As EIA notes: “In the Northeast, wholesale natural gas prices were down between 2% and 15%, reflecting both lower regional demands and growing natural gas production from the Marcellus shale play.” This is compared to a four to seven percent increase over last summer’s prices in California and the Southwest.

It should also be noted that while all of us enjoy lower monthly bills, electricity prices are particularly important for people living on low or fixed incomes. When electricity prices rise, low income folks are the ones first to feel the impacts, as pointed out by John Hanger, former secretary of the Pennsylvania DEP:

For median income families and those in poverty, as are 24% of USA’s children, energy prices are important, even life and death.  I spent my first 6 years in the workforce working with poor and struggling families and sat across a lawyer’s desk seeing a mother weep because her gas, electricity, and water services were all shutoff.  The price of natural gas matters a lot.  We all should remember that.

Even a small rise in monthly electricity prices means less money for groceries, clothes, and other necessities. And the fact that responsible Marcellus production is allowing families across Pennsylvania and the northeast to keep more of their hard-earned money each month is something we should absolutely celebrate.

The Marcellus Shale has been an categorical success story for this region, from putting people back to work to increasing economic opportunities to lowering the cost of living. And with America possessing more than a hundred years worth of natural gas in shale, these benefits look to be a permanent fixture of our economy for generations to come.


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