Over the past few years as the fracking revolution has taken hold, natural gas has delivered more and more of our nation’s power and 2018 marks natural gas’ greatest year yet.
Much of the growth in natural gas fired power last year can be attributed to several periods of extremely warm and cold weather experienced by much of the country. During January of last year, most of the lower 48 states experienced prolonged periods of lower than normal temperatures followed by record high temperatures during the summer. These wild weather swings drive people to use more power to heat and cool their homes.
Low natural gas prices driven by the fracking revolution have led power companies to increasingly rely on the fuel to provide electricity while keeping power prices low. Natural gas first surpassed coal as our primary source of power generation in 2016 and last year it accounted for more than a third of our power generation (35%), followed by coal (27%), nuclear (19%), and hydropower (7%).
Thanks to our booming fracking industry, the price of natural gas is expected remain low for years to come. That’s great news for consumers because low cost gas will continue helping to keep power prices down, keeping more money in everyone’s pockets and helping to bolster the economy.
Clean burning natural gas has also become an important part of our shift toward cleaner energy. It’s been instrumental in cutting U.S. CO2 emissions over 30% since 2005. It has also enabled the use of more solar and wind energy because natural gas’ ability to ramp up and down quickly make it an ideal source of backup power.
Fortunately for power consumers all over the country, the U.S. natural gas industry is only just getting started. EIA estimates expect U.S. gas production to increase 1-2% per year in the coming decades and possibly more in subsequent years. EIA also expects prices to continue to drop which makes the U.S. more competitive against global competitors and will keep power prices low for the foreseeable future.