The Northwest Power and Conservation Council recently published a blog, Reaping the Shale Natural Gas Bounty. The Council recognizes that as trite as it has become to say it, North America is in the midst of an energy revolution.
The North American natural gas resource is abundant. Once a pipe dream, technological breakthroughs have made vast gas supplies available. Less than ten years ago, natural gas was thought to be so scarce we were building
facilities to import it from other countries. Once we asked, “Where will we get the natural gas we know we need?” Now we ask, “How can we use the natural gas we know we have?”
North American natural gas is affordable and becoming more so as producers refine extraction technologies. Through the 80s and 90s, the commodity averaged about $4.40 per dekatherm (Dth) when adjusted for inflation. In 2015, the average price was $2.62/Dth. Northwest consumers alone have saved hundreds of millions of dollars in energy costs over just the last few years.
North American Natural gas is also a cleaner energy resource. Whether as a flexible generation fuel that makes renewable resources viable and displaces coal; as a transportation fuel to replace diesel, gasoline and bunker fuel, or used directly to warm homes, cook and heat water, the increased use of natural gas is reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The EIA reports emissions are at the lowest rate since 1993. Using natural gas responsibly and directly will drive GHG emissions even lower.
The Council poses a number of good questions in its blog. We maintain that natural gas is an abundant, affordable, cleaner and more efficient energy resource. It is already helping to address many of the energy, economic and environmental issues confronting North America. Natural gas is an immediate and enduring solution to today’s concerns, using today’s technologies.