Natural Gas Is Saving Families Money This Winter

Thanks to hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the United States is leading the world in natural gas production, which is providing major energy cost savings for many families who need it most.  Indeed, the U.S. natural gas boom has been an effective anti-poverty program in and of itself, delivering clean and affordable energy to millions of low-income households across the country. By one estimate, the growth of U.S. shale development has actually been three times more effective at helping families than the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

As John Wells, director of the home-heating assistance program at Action for Boston Community Development, stated in National Journal this week:

“About six years ago, when natural-gas prices were high, it was a real crisis. Low natural-gas prices have been a godsend to low-income families.”

But it’s not just Massachusetts reaping the benefits. Take Pennsylvania, where consumers who use natural gas to heat their homes are certainly reaping the rewards of responsible shale development. The Times Tribune reports

“Those who heat their homes with natural gas will continue to enjoy low prices thanks to production of shale gas, like the Marcellus Shale that underlies much of Pennsylvania. Natural gas prices will be down 11 percent from last winter and is down 19 percent from winter 2008-2009, Dr. Felmy said, citing information from the federal Energy Information Administration. The typical household heating with natural gas will pay an average of $669 this season.”

In fact, six of Pennsylvania’s ten largest regulated utilities are providing their lowest natural gas prices for December since 2003. From the Associated Press:

“About two-thirds of the Pennsylvanians who heat their homes with natural gas are heading into December paying the lowest prices in a decade for this time of year, according to rate information from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Gas prices for six out of the 10 largest regulated utilities are at their lowest December price since 2003. Those utilities include Columbia Gas, National Fuel Gas, Peco, People’s, Philadelphia Gas Works and UGI Penn.

“Utilities credit the huge volume of gas being produced from the Marcellus Shale formation underneath Pennsylvania for pushing down prices. In most cases, prices this December are less than half what they were in December 2008, when the drilling boom was just beginning.”

Just how much are families saving? In 2012, shale development provided an average of $1,200 in energy cost savings per U.S. household. According to IHS CERA, these savings could grow to $2,000 in 2015 and up to $3,500 in 2025.  Meanwhile, the increased use of natural gas in Pennsylvania and New York City has helped to improve air quality for residents, and, as EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy stated earlier this week, “natural gas has been a game changer with our ability to really move forward with pollution reductions” in the United States.

So while some celebrities and others may choose to oppose it, the development of domestic, affordable, clean-burning, job-creating, renewable-supporting natural gas is actually helping American consumers and the environment alike.

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