Ohio hit a major milestone this week, as it was announced new natural gas-fired power plants in the works in the state will power over 10 million homes and generate enough electricity to more than offset all of the coal-fired power plants that have closed in Buckeye State. In less than one year, private investment in these natural gas-fired power plants has doubled, now tipping the scales at a whopping $12 billion, according to a press release from Clean Energy Future, LLC.
Clean Energy Future also announced today that it will develop another $900 million project, the Trumbull Energy Center (TEC) in Lordstown, Ohio, adding an additional 940 megawatts of gas-fired electricity, which will power “about 850,000 Ohio homes.” TEC is just one of 12 new power plant projects across the state — all of which will be using Ohio’s cheap and abundant local natural gas from Utica Shale. According to a recent press release from TEC, these new power plants will create a need for 18 million man-hours of construction labor and add billions to Ohio’s economy over each project’s lifetime (approximately 40 years).
Of course, none of these investments would be possible without the prolific natural gas production made possible by fracking. In fact, the very reason billions are flooding into Ohio to generate electricity from natural gas is entirely because of fracking, as is evident in TEC’s press release,
“Ohio is blessed with abundant, low-cost shale gas. In fact, Utica shale gas is the lowest cost gas in the entire country.”
Many Ohioans believe this news is a signal of more good things to come, as drilling has started to pick up. Guy Coviello from the Youngstown Regional Chamber of Commerce recently stated,
“It’s a good indicator of what’s happened with the resurgence in the shale industry.”
Keeping pace with the announcements of natural gas-fired power plants in Ohio is no small task these days, as announcements seem to be coming practically every other month. For example, the Cincinnati Business Courier released a slideshow this week entitled “Here are the 10 natural gas plants in development in Ohio: SLIDESHOW” — yet just days later, that number increased as a result of the recent announcement by TEC.
This news also underscores how natural gas produced from eastern and southeastern Ohio has spurred investment throughout the state, and not just in areas where exploration and production is taking place. A prime example is Oregon, Ohio. Despite the fact there is no Utica Shale development going on there, the community has benefited from the recent construction of a natural gas-fired power plant, and a second plant appears to be in the works. More importantly, every Ohio electricity consumer is benefiting from the ample power generated from clean burning natural gas. As stated above, these 12 natural gas-fired power plants will power over 10 million homes. Considering there are roughly 4.4 million households in Ohio, that means electric consumers throughout a 13-state competitive electric market will also benefit from cheap, abundant and clean natural gas as well.
Here’s how that works: Ohio is part of a 13-state “PJM Interconnection” competitive free market system. This free market includes Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. So quite literally, Ohio fracking will not only power all of Ohio’s power needs, it will also supporting low-cost electricity for all of the states that participate in this 13-state free market system, which services 61 million consumers.
Private investment in Ohio natural gas-fired power plant construction projects is happening at such a rapid rate that the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) can’t even keep pace. Case in point: the following map from an EIA forecast released eight months ago under the headline “Many natural gas-fired power plants under construction are near major shale plays” doesn’t even include several of the 12 Ohio projects in the works.
If what’s happening in Ohio is any indication of where things may lead in other shale plays, it’s fair to say that the United States could see a tremendous uptick in private investment in natural gas-fired power. And it’s no surprise people in Ohio are calling this incredible news “a dream come true.”