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.
The electricity powering your light bulb is produced in a power plant by generators. Energy cannot be created or destroyed just changed from one form to another. Newly generated electricity is then transported over the power grid to your electrical outlet.
The United States has three power grids that keep the lower 48 states powered:
- The Eastern Interconnected System east of the Rocky Mountains
- The Western Interconnected System from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains
- Texas Interconnected System
These three separate systems are interconnected and require constant oversight to ensure that all the components are linked together. Since large quantities of electricity cannot be stored effectively or efficiently, electricity must be produced as it is used, this increases the need to watch over the grid. Control centers are utilized to monitor the supply and demand to safeguard against blackouts. To avoid blackouts there must always be a perfect balance between supply and demand.
From the control centers electricity is constantly monitored as it travels from the power plants to high-voltage power lines that transport electricity throughout the three grids. The higher the voltage the more efficiently they transport electricity. In other words the higher the voltage the more electricity will get to the end point. However, there will always be losses as electricity flows through the power grid.
From the high voltage power lines the electricity is “stepped-down” to lower voltage power lines, utility poles and wires before it can be safely used in your home or office.
Do you know how much you are paying for the electricity you use?
Why not reduce your electricity rate with Realgy Energy Services. Give one of our Energy Brokers a call (877) 300-6747 or check out our website for more info www.realgyenergyservices.com
BoingBoing, Where electricity comes from
US Energy Information Administration, Energy In Brief, What is the electrical power grid, and what are some challenges it faces?
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
According to a poll by the AP -NORC Center for Public Affairs Research which surveyed 1,008 Americans nationwide, most Americans are more concerned with savings money on Energy Costs, than taking a summer vacation or having the latest electronic. In fact saving money on energy costs came in second only to having reliable transportation.
The most common ways American are choosing to reduce energy costs include turning off lights, turning down the heat, installing energy-saving appliances and driving less. While Americans are generally aware of the most effective ways to save energy, they report that many of these actions would be extremely or very difficult for them and their families to implement in the next year.
However, there is another way to cut energy costs that is very easy and requires just a phone call. Third party suppliers such as Realgy Energy Services supply the same energy at lower rates than your local utility. Check out Realgy Energy Services rates for June 2012 at www.realgyenergyservices.com or call one of our Energy Brokers 877-300-6747 to learn more.
Learn more about the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll on Energy Issues:
Associated Press – NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, Energy Issues: How the Public Understands and Acts
Many utility companies offer a budget billing plan to their customers. This basically means that you will end up paying a set amount each month for your utility bill. Your utility company will generally take an average of your past energy usage and estimate future gas or electric costs to come up with your monthly set amount. While this may seem like a great idea, you should carefully consider several things before enrolling.
First you should find out if a refund or credit will be issued if less energy is used. Some utility companies may not issue a refund if less power is used than planned. Additionally you may need to set aside extra money to cover the cost after the settle-up if more energy was used than the utility planned for.
Second you should also look at administration fees associated with the service. Many will charge a monthly fee. The fees will vary from utility to utility, but anything more than two or three dollars a month is too much for this service.
Third you should consider the contract that you sign when enrolling for the budget plan offered by your utility. There may be penalties applied if you move or turn off the service. For example you may end up paying extra when you move if you have used more power than was budgeted.
Fourth if you are enrolled with a Registered Energy Supplier such as Realgy Energy Services, it is important to find out if all charges will be covered under the budgeted amount. Some utilities will not allow for budgeting if the customer is enrolled with a supplier.
It is important that you fully understand what you are signing up for, check out your local utilities website before signing up for a budget plan or request to see a copy of the contract.
However, the easiest way to reduce your monthly utility bill would be to enroll with a Registered Energy Supplier to lower your energy rates, check out Realgy Energy Services rates for June 2012 and see how much you could be saving www.realgyenergyservices.com.
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.
Standby or vampire power as it is most commonly referred to, wastes $10 Billion of Electricity Annually in the United States alone. The average US household has about 40 electronic devices that constantly draw small amounts of power.
- Laptop computer chargers
- answering and machines
- Computer printer
- TVs and cable boxes,
- VCRs, DVD players, DVD recorders, digital video recorders,
- phone and iPod chargers
- hubs and routers,
- video camera battery charger
- plugged-in electric toys
- night lights
Check out the Vampire Power Sucks website for tip on how to reduce vampire power.
Edit: January 2013 this website is no longer available. If you would like to learn more about Vampire Energy check out the Energy Star site:
Energy Star, Standby Power and Energy Vampires
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 Department of Energy announced yesterday the most recent in a series of common-sense efficiency standards made by the Obama Administration. The newest efficiency standard focuses on residential clothes washers and dishwashers and will save consumers $20 billion in energy and water costs.
These new standards add to previous energy efficiency requirements and will go into effect in 2015 for clothes washers and 2013 for dishwashers.
Approximately 3% of residential energy use and more than 20% of indoor water use can be attributed to clothes washers and dishwashers.
The new standards will reduce the energy consumption for front-loading clothes washers by 15% and will cut water consumption by 35%.Top loading clothes washers will save 33% on energy and 19% on water use.Residential dishwashers will use about 15% less energy and more than 20% less water, directly providing consumers with savings on monthly bills.
Learn more about the energy and cost-saving standards adopted under the Obama Administration on the Department of Energy website