Those of us in the industry , have family and/or friends in the oil & gas industry are concerned about the future outlook of PA’s role in the continued production of natural gas. It appears the outlook is – bright and clean. Wheww!
Thank you Cabot for your efforts in sharing information with the public on the natural gas status in PA. Supporters and adversaries may derive information from resources ‘unknown’, Cabot is vigilant on sharing facts from well-known resources.
Below is an unbiased letter from a commissioner, Pamela A. Witmer, of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) as published by the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday, January 3.
Overview: PA continues to be the nation’s second largest producer of natural gas (second only to TX), the exporting of gas will spur the Commonwealth economically and provide more jobs, and, when the pipeline is fully operational it will reduce the cost of heating and electric bills in PA. Marcellus Shale sources the majority of the gas delivered by Pennsylvania’s major gas utilities. It accounts for 90 percent of UGI’s product, and for our friends in Montgomery and Bucks County, and surrounding area 85 percent of Peco’s supply. AND for our ecological friends (and I’m one of them) the tri-state area is seeing reduced carbon dioxide emissions. We are using 20 times more gas (rather than other fuels) to generate electricity in Pennsylvania compared with 15 years ago. Natural gas is a much cleaner-burning fuel, and carbon dioxide emissions within the electric grid serving Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland have steadily declined – down by about 23 percent since 2005.
Want to learn more? Hear directly from the Gov. Wolfe’s Pipeline Taskforce? Attend the 2nd Annual Upstream PA 2016 event in State College, PA on April 19, 2016 – limited seating. Register at http://upstreampa.com/
To hear the whole letter…. read on.
The following is a letter to the editor which ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday, January 3. It was authored by Pamela A. Witmer, a commissioner of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC). According to its website: The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities to ensure safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protect the public interest; educate consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; further economic development; and foster new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.
When it comes to energy, 2015 has been a good year for Pennsylvania – and the future looks just as promising.
Marcellus Shale has led Pennsylvania to become the second-largest natural gas-producing state in the nation, behind only Texas, driving the Keystone State toward recognition as an energy hub.
Sitting atop the Marcellus Shale – one of the most abundant and lucrative shale reserves in the nation — has offered us numerous benefits. To name a few:
Lower energy prices. Not only for natural gas customers but also for electric customers. Prolific, efficient production has contributed to natural gas prices that are 38 percent lower than they were one year ago, and electricity prices are declining. PPL Electric Utilities’ Price-to-Compare dropped 17 percent Dec. 1, attributed to dropping wholesale prices, due to – you guessed it – lower gas prices.
An overall healthier economy. Not only have we seen jobs in the industry, but Pennsylvania also has made the switch from being a natural gas importer to a natural gas exporter. Pipelines are now being reconfigured to send gas to other regions, rather than to receive supply. This means that not only can Pennsylvanians directly benefit from our proximity to its natural gas supply, but our economy gets a boost from these exports. And as additional pipeline infrastructure is built, opportunities for in-state uses will increase.
Reduced carbon dioxide emissions. We are using 20 times more gas to generate electricity in Pennsylvania compared with 15 years ago. Natural gas is a much cleaner-burning fuel, and carbon dioxide emissions within the electric grid serving Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland have steadily declined – down by about 23 percent since 2005.
Marcellus Shale sources the majority of the gas delivered by Pennsylvania’s major gas utilities. It accounts for 90 percent of UGI’s product, 85 percent of Peco’s supply, 61 percent for Columbia Gas, and 50 percent for Peoples Natural Gas.
Thanks to Marcellus Shale, for the first time in more than 50 years, in 2013 the PUC approved a new natural gas utility. Leatherstocking Gas Co. now allows residents in Susquehanna County and surrounding areas to take advantage of natural gas cost savings and environmental benefits. Leatherstocking’s goal is to exclusively use Marcellus Shale gas. I recently participated in an event in Susquehanna County to highlight success stories like Leatherstocking – and similar stories are being repeated across Pennsylvania.
With so much gas – and gas byproducts such as propane – available, we need more infrastructure to deliver it. Limits in pipeline capacity are an issue, underlining the importance of projects like the Mariner East pipeline, which helped to deliver much-needed propane to Pennsylvanians during sustained cold and peak demand last winter.
Likewise, there are Pennsylvania residents who currently do not have access to this resource because they are not near pipelines. It can be expensive for residents and businesses to connect, with “extension costs” in the tens of thousands of dollars when paid up front.
Increasing access and affordability across the state is a priority at the PUC, and we have pushed utilities to design innovative programs for consumers to manage these costs. The majority of our major natural gas utilities have now implemented aggressive pilot programs aimed at cost-effective ways of extending service to unserved or underserved areas.
Moving forward, these programs and stories are only going to advance Pennsylvania’s reputation as an energy hub, providing more gas to more consumers for a lower price.
The PUC recognizes that all of this new construction places increased importance on safety oversight. In fact, safety has always been a high priority for us. Through Act 127, the commission has been tasked with enforcing federal pipeline safety laws throughout Pennsylvania.
The PUC’s Gas Safety Division employs a highly trained team of inspectors and engineers to oversee pipeline safety – for both regulated utilities and other pipeline operators. Additionally, PUC Chair Gladys Brown serves on Gov. Wolf’s Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force, leading its pipeline safety and integrity group.
Natural gas has been a game-changer for Pennsylvania, but for more residents and businesses to be able to take advantage of this clean-burning resource, we need more pipeline infrastructure. To advance that goal, the PUC looks forward to furthering the accessibility, affordability, and environmental benefits of gas, through the construction and oversight of new natural gas infrastructure and the implementation of innovative extension programs.