Natural gas as an electricity source: Is it sustainable?
While an international report predicts the rise of solar electricity worldwide, a different electricity revolution is already happening locally: the rise of natural gas.
Natural gas recently overtook coal as the top source in the U.S. for electric power generation for the first time.
Ray Dotter, spokesman for PJM Interconnection, which coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in Pennsylvania and 12 other states, said the upward trend of natural gas began about five years ago.
“Natural gas fire is now very competitive with coal,” Dotter said. “Ten years ago, that’s not something most people would’ve predicted in electricity.”
At 36 percent, coal is still atop PJM’s generation by fuel type chart, according to its most recent report, but natural gas, at 17 percent, is quickly closing in on its competitor. Most new generation requests in the past five years have been for natural gas, Dotter said.
Pennsylvania residents have already seen the benefits of the natural gas boom from drillers in the state’s Marcellus Shale formation.
Because Pennsylvania is abundant with natural gas, prices for generation have been decreasing, said Scott Surgeoner, spokesman for Met-Ed, one of York’s largest electric suppliers.