Shale Development Bringing Three New Gas Utility Projects to Ohio
Currently, there are plans to construct at least three new natural gas-fired power plants in Ohio, owing to the state’s newfound bounty of natural gas from the Utica Shale. While it is no secret that shale development is bringing prosperity to eastern Ohio — with an influx of billions of dollars in investment and creating tens of thousands of high-paying jobs — utilities are also recognizing that natural gas prices are also well below the national average, which is due in large part to abundant supplies of natural gas right under our feet.
Ohio residents currently enjoy a $0.85 discount per mcf, while commercial consumers, like an electric utility, pay $1.12 per mcf less than the national average. That may not sound like a lot, but the 3.2 million residential natural gas consumers in Ohio pay $213.3 million less a year for their natural gas compared to consumers paying the national average. Commercial customers in Ohio are enjoying a $162.4 million discount on their natural gas compared to commercial consumers paying the national average in other states.
Three new projects demonstrate what low-cost energy can mean for our state:
- In Carroll County, Carroll County Energy LLC plans to build an $800 million, 700-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant, which will produce enough electricity to power 700,000 homes. The project will create 500 construction jobs and will employ 25 to 30 workers when completed. The plant is scheduled to be in operation by May 2017.
- In Cleveland, NRG Energy, Inc. is converting its old 753-megawatt power plant to run on natural gas in order to meet more stringent regulatory standards set forth by the federal government. NRG received approval this week by the Ohio Public Utilities Commission to build a 20-mile, 24- or 30-inch pipeline to provide natural gas for the converted plant. David Gaier, a spokesman for NRG Energy, said “the company hopes to begin construction of the pipeline in the spring or summer of 2015 and to complete the conversion of the plant in May 2016.”
- In southwest Ohio in Butler County, near Cincinnati, NTE Energy LLC plans to build a baseload $500 million natural gas-fired power plant in Middletown. The 500-megawatt power plant is scheduled to begin construction midway through 2015 and open in 2018.
All three of these projects signify an increasing shift toward more natural gas-fired power plants in the years to come — as well as significant new investments that will lead to more jobs and greater economic opportunity. Lower natural gas prices coupled with the vast environmental benefits of using clean burning natural gas means building these plants is essentially a no-brainer – a win-win for the economy and the environment alike. Thankfully, Ohio has the resources to fuel the state back to prosperity.