Written by Michael Vrtis President of Realgy Energy Services in response to the CNBC article “Natural Gas a Raging Bull in Its Battle With Coal”
The thinking has always been that the US will lead in coal use as we have the largest supply in the world. In our history, coal has contributed no less than 50% of our total electrical energy needs.
Today with the technology of “fracking” the US has discovered an abundance of recoverable natural gas. So much so that US natural gas prices are nearly $2.00 less than the average world price for natural gas (this is a huge economic advantage when you consider our cost for natural gas is about $3.00).
So abundant natural gas drives the cost lower, and so with the lower cost and long term supply natural gas takes market shares from its closest rival; coal. The benefits of this economic decision have environmental benefits.
All sounds great right?
Diversity in our generation supply (a mix of natural gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar, wave, etc) makes our electric supply gird stronger and more competitive. Consider if we had discovered this natural gas field and had not developed the technology to generate electricity from it more efficiently.
Nothing last forever; while 100 year supply sounds great. Its only one lifetime! This is where US Energy Policy has to step forward. The US should continue to invest in new technology that will not let us deplete the natural gas richness of this country and leave our children more dependent on electric energy without developing a replacement.
Check out the CNBC article: “Natural Gas a Raging Bull in Its Battle With Coal”
Written by Michael Vrtis President of Realgy Energy Services in response to the Green Tech article “Frenemies—Why Solar and Natural Gas Will Be Central to US Energy Policy”
The article provides a good sense of history and assessment of our demand for electricity. This article is clear that natural gas can and is used for the production of peaking electricity (electricity used during 9Am-5PM) which is exactly the time when solar energy is delivering its energy. So on that point they could appear competitive but as was pointed out in the article, it is a false choice on several levels.
The deployment of investment in solar verse natural gas generators is a question of size; how much is needed and for what purpose. Natural gas will dominate when energy demand is critical and very large (urban areas, major manufacturing centers, etc.). Whereas solar can and should take its place where surface area for its installation (solar takes up a lot of space compared to any other electric generating technology) is available.
Realgy Energy Services has invested in building solar projects on the roof of buildings in Illinois. These customers use more than the solar panels can generate (during most days) and the additional electricity is purchased from gas and coal fired power plants. The solar projects were supported with tax incentives that made the investment possible. The solar panels have a 20-25 year operating life with near zero operating costs; no other generating technology can match this (wind does come close but it has higher operating costs). These projects demonstrate how solar energy and all the grid supported generators work together.
Technology will advance and with it the costs of generating electricity will decrease. All energy options should be evaluated and used so as to create diversity of technology, fuels and operations so that the electricity gird is robust and not dependent on a single energy source (remember the 1970’s oil shock) or technology risk. I hear often of the need for a US Energy Policy I think we have it; look at how the US Government supports industry through tax policy and you will see our Energy Policy (heavily favors oil and natural gas).
A real success; consider that is the span of the last 20 years wind energy went from being a tax incentivized technology that was not “financeable” to what is now considered standard technology and capable of investment grade financing. Solar energy will follow the pattern that wind energy and the diversification of the US energy market (along with environmental, jobs, etc.) will benefit.
1. Markets are Local
Natural gas from American wells is transported through pipelines on land across the US. Unlike oil which must be shipped in from overseas
2. Mild Winters
The mild winter of 2011 resulted in less demand for natural gas to heat homes, leaving suppliers with too much natural gas still in storage.
Fracking has greatly increased the supplies of natural gas in America.
4. Lack of Consumer Demand
Only 19% of natural gas consumption in America is used by end consumers, 31% is used to create electricity in power plants and 28% is used in industrial settings.
Read the whole story at Investopedia
Written by Michael Vrtis President of Realgy Energy Services in response to the Forbes article “Fracking Is Misunderstood, It’s The Key To Energy Self-Sufficiency”
This article articulates that the US should embrace fracking on the basis that it can lead to energy independence. Given the free-trade mantra advocated for years if not decades I chuckle at the thought of independence in energy.
So what does fracking mean to you and the US?
- Fracking will evolve as a technique for extracting natural gas.
- Its impact on the US cannot be understated; this is like finding a Saudi Arabian natural gas field in our backyard!
- It has the potential to keep the US below the world market price for natural gas for decades to come (currently by almost $5.00 / Dth)
- Manufacturing will return to the US to take advantage of lower energy costs
- Air pollution will decrease in the Northeast US
- The EPA will regulate the fracking fluid and will require ground water and aquifer monitoring; this is a responsible position and will prevent restricting the fracking technique
Instead of politician trying to seek energy independence I would like to see them embrace natural gas and encourage its use as a transportation fuel. This will reducing oil imports of which 60% is used as transportation fuel.
According to The American Gas Association households that have natural gas appliances, such as cooking ranges, clothes driers and heaters save about $518 compared to homes that use electric appliances.
Benefits of using natural gas for key appliances includes:
Lower energy bills
Decrease in greenhouse emissions and pollutants (up to 37% less emissions compared to electric appliances)
Safety and Reliability
“The direct use of natural gas provides three times more useful energy to consumers than electricity,” said Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of AGA.
To read more about the benefits and savings of natural gas visit the American Gas Association website
The known amount of natural gas in the US has increased over the last 5 years to the point that it now represents over 20% of all the US’s energy reserves (remember some call the US the Saudi Arabia of coal). The natural gas recoverable by the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is a game changer for the US.
There is discussion among business leaders (not politicians) that the conversion to natural gas vehicles and investment in natural gas distribution could reduce oil imports over 60% within 5 years! This is not a political aspiration it’s business.
How has the electric energy industry responded?
Well electricity and natural gas have always been competitors through technology. Natural gas heating applications have been constantly targeted by electric heating. Electric motors have been challenged by natural gas driven engines. Large electric driven air conditioning systems have competed with natural gas driven absorption technology.
So given that natural gas resources (from fracking) has allowed natural gas to truly challenge gasoline as a transportation fuel I am not surprised that an electric option will not be far behind!
Let’s keep competing.
Huffington Post, Tech “EV’s Holy Grail: 500 Miles on a Single Charge”
Natural gas as you know or may not know is a colorless, odorless gas that can be stored in a number of different ways for an indefinite period of time. Natural gas that is transported through the pipelines is not always needed right away, and is put into storage for later use. Most natural gas in the United States is stored in depleted natural gas or oil fields underground. These underground storage fields take advantage of existing wells, gathering systems and pipeline connections. Natural Aquifers, Salt caverns and abandoned mines are also used to store natural gas.
The demand for natural gas is normally higher in the winter than in the summer. This is mostly due to the fact that most homes and organizations use natural gas for heating in the winter. The stored natural gas delivered during the summer months normally at a lower price again due to supply and demand, is ready and available for use during the increased demand of the winter months. The natural gas in storage can also be used as insurance against natural disasters or other unforeseen accidents which may affect the production or delivery of natural gas.
Before 1992 natural gas was a regulated commodity and storage was required for the operational requirements of the pipelines to meet the needs of the utilities. In 1992 the Federal Regulatory Commission introduced Order 636 which opened up the natural gas market to deregulation. What Order 636 did was make storage available to industry participants for commercial reason. For example Realgy Energy Services Storage program which stores gas when prices are low, and withdraws it when prices are high.
Most utilities and industry participants pocket the savings from storing gas at a lower rate and sell it at an increased rate for a profit. What makes Realgy Energy Services Storage program unique is that the savings from stored gas is always passed along to our customers.
Realgy Energy Services offers the Summer Storage Program to our customers to help offset the cost of winter natural gas usage. Under the program customers put away 20% of their historic usage into storage at the lower summer rates to be used in the winter when the price of natural gas normally increases.
If you would like more information on The Realgy Energy Services Storage Program you can contact one of our Energy Brokers at (877) 300-6747 or check out our website www.realgyenergyservices.com
U.S Energy Information Administration The Basics of Underground Natural Gas Storage
NaturalGas.Org Storage of Natural Gas
Realgy Energy Services Natural Gas Storage Program is just one more way we help our customers save money on their energy usage.
Natural Gas Storage is the service of purchasing a percentage of your annual gas usage during the summer months and storing it. This stored gas is then delivered to you during the winter months. That is why we call it “winter gas at summer prices.”
Natural Gas Storage injections begin in April and run through October. As part of our customer Benefits Realgy Energy Services purchases approximately 20% of your annual Natural Gas usage during the months of April, May, June, July, August, September and October. For each of these seven months we will buy approximately 2.85% more gas than you use, at the low spring and summer variable rates.
Then during the 5 winter months of November, December, January, February, and March, this stored Natural Gas will be withdrawn and delivered to you. Since you have already purchased this Natural Gas, you will see an even greater savings during the winter months.
Realgy offers this storage program whenever we can. If your Utility allows Realgy to offer a storage program, it will be listed in our Service Plan table on our website www.realgyenergyservices.com, or you can contact customer service at 877-300-6747.
Realgy Energy Services offers our PriceWatch™ winter fixed-price program to all of our Natural Gas customers who have a valid email address on file.
PriceWatch™ utilizes Realgy Energy Services’ proprietary trading and computer services. PriceWatchTM is designed to send out alerts when fixed pricing is such that it can reduce costs over the winter months.
It’s that time of year again when Realgy’s staff of Energy Advisers start to look into the future to see whether locking in your natural gas at a certain price for the winter months will save you money.
Our Energy Advisers start monitoring the market prices of natural gas in early August and continue to monitor prices through September and October. Historically, natural gas prices are lower in September and October before rising again in the winter months due to rising demand.
Realgy’s staff of Energy Advisers monitor future prices every day to recommend the best time to lock in a price so our customers save the most money on their natural gas usage this winter season.
PriceWatch™ is time-sensitive and requires all customers who want to participate to have a valid email address on file with Realgy Energy Services.
Our Energy Advisers need a response within 48 hours in order to lock in the best price.
- We monitor the market and recommend pricing
- We charge no additional fee
- You choose to participate
- You are protected against rapid price increases
- Not a one-time purchase but proactive consultation
If you have any further questions please feel free to contact a Realgy Energy Services Customer Service Representative by phone, (877) 300-6747, by email, email@example.com, by fax (860) 233-3884, or by mail, 675 Oakwood Avenue, West Hartford, CT 06110.