Why the Big Apple should hail fracking

Perspectives blog
Ken Cohen - Sep. 23, 2015

A Bloomberg story on shale natural gas came and went last week with virtually no follow-on attention. Too bad, because the information in it should make New York City residents sit up and take notice.

The article highlighted one of the benefits that natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale is delivering – lower electricity prices for New York City residents.

According to Bloomberg, the Big Apple’s wholesale on-peak electricity costs are headed for a record-low third quarter this year, and the credit is due to increased volumes of natural gas coming from the Marcellus Shale.

Bloomberg looked at data from PJM Interconnection and NYISO, the independent system operators handling the wholesale electricity markets for the portions of the nation’s electric grid affecting New York and other parts of the mid-Atlantic region.

The conclusion is that hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale has increased supplies of natural gas, which are helping bring wholesale power prices down. And, Bloomberg noted, those lower prices are starting to be reflected in New York City residents’ electric bills.

One paragraph really stands out to give the full scope of what is happening:

Cheap gas has subdued power prices even as the East Coast experienced waves of unusually hot weather in the second half of summer. Electricity consumption typically peaks in the third quarter with the heat.

In other words, even with electric consumption soaring – and I was in New York in July; it was hot – shale gas was relieving the upward pressure on electricity costs that the summer months usually bring.

The great irony in this news, which the Bloomberg story didn’t address, is that New York has instituted a moratorium on shale gas production in its portion of the Marcellus Shale. Meanwhile, polls show that New York City residents by and large oppose fracking in the state’s southern tier.

So New Yorkers are seeing the benefits of shale natural gas, all the while prohibiting the means to produce such gas in the state’s own portion of the Marcellus Shale.

The natural gas that is helping lower New Yorkers’ electric bills is being produced from portions of the Marcellus in Pennsylvania and Ohio – two states that have refused to cave in to pressures from anti-oil and gas activist organizations to halt shale energy development over bogus health and environmental claims that have been soundly debunked.

Perhaps New York City residents might consider their opposition to fracking in a different light if they understood just what it is that is keeping their lights on – not to mention what is helping to power their air conditioning, appliances, smart phones, laptops, and subways.

Tags:   hydraulic fracturing
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