Natural Gas NOW Picks of the Week – December 30, 2017

natural gas now - Tom Shepstone ReportsTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

Natural Gas NOW readers pass along a lot of stuff every week about natural gas, fractivist antics, emissions, renewables, and other news relating to energy.

Here’s more material sent along by Natural Gas NOW readers; great stuff highlighting the power of natural gas and the absurdity of fractivism. Check out the links and other short bits below:

Lancaster Goes for Natural Gas?

LancasterOnline published article after article about the phony Lancaster Against Pipelines protest of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. Surprising it was, therefore, to find this wonderful article profiling Lancaster General Hospital’s own natural gas project and noting how many other hospitals are doing the same thing:

Lancaster General Hospital is buying a lot less electricity these days, thanks to its new power plant that runs on natural gas.

The $28 million facility that LGH calls an “Energy Center of the Future” started running earlier this year and now provides the bulk of the hospital’s power, with the rest still coming from PPL Electric Utilities.

Hospital executives say the 6.6 megawatt power plant will save about $2 million a year while producing only about half of the emissions that stemmed from making PPL’s power…

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Lancaster General Hospital

The main turbine can continue running and powering the hospital indefinitely as long as the natural gas line supplying it is functioning, officials said…

The kind of system LGH installed is known as a “combined heat and power” system, or CHP. Several other hospitals in the region have built or are building them.

The savings come largely from the efficiency of combining functions, using the heat created by making electricity to produce steam used for heating and sterilization.

Additionally, LGH added a chiller that runs on the steam and is used to cool the hospital and control its humidity…

A state database shows that about a dozen hospitals across Pennsylvania have CHP systems…

Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is building a CHP plant.

Kevin Kanoff, a campus energy engineer, said it’s expected to cost about $19 million and be finished by October 2018, and will not include a chiller.

Conservative estimates put savings at $2.5 million a year, he said, and greenhouse gas emissions reductions at about 44,000 tons per year — which is equivalent to removing about 7,200 cars from the road.

What great news out of Lancaster, of all places.

Northeast Natural Gas Price Up to $50 on Spot Market!

According to Natural Gas Intelligence (NGI), spot prices for natural gas heading into the Northeast reached as high as $50 yesterday. The average price nationally was $4.65 but for the Northeast as a whole it was $21.73 and for gas shipped to Transco Zone 6 (the urban Northeast outside of New York) it was $36.94. New York prices in Transco Zone 6 (think NYC) averaged $30.97. Meanwhile, the price of gas from the Transco-Leidy line (the heart of the Northeast Marcellus region) was $3.01. So, the next time, you here some idiot from Massachusetts, New Jersey or New York wearing politically correct blinders telling us there’s no need for more pipelines in the Northeast, throw these numbers up at them.

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Don’t expect them to listen, though. Stupid is as stupid does, after all.

And, Then There’s This from Bloomberg

Sometimes, even Bloomberg gets the story straight:

Oil is set to become the largest source of electricity in New England on Thursday for the first time in almost three years after temperatures plunged well below freezing.

Plants burning fuel oil accounted for just over 30 percent of the region’s power supply during the morning, according to ISO New England Inc., the local grid operator. Oil typically makes up under 1 percent of the fuel mix on most days.

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Chart: Bloomberg

A lack of pipeline capacity has constrained gas flows to the region in recent years, causing prices to surge during severe cold snaps. New England became the world’s priciest gas market earlier this week, making it more economic for generators to switch to fuel oil and coal.

Nothing like going backward is there? How much more CO2 and sulfur dioxide will be emitted? Who cares, if you’re from Massachusetts that is? The important thing is not build any pipelines. Political correctness demands it and Bay Staters (or at least prim and proper Bostonians) are nothing if not politically correct.

WAT…Natural Gas to Generate Tourism?

It just doesn’t get any better than this, from Lehigh Valley Live:

Blue Mountain Resort received local approval Tuesday night to move ahead with plans for its Vista Lodge hotel/condominium proposal.

The Lower Towamensing Township Zoning Hearing Board approved a special exception and all but one variance to allow the project to proceed as envisioned by Blue Mountain CEO Barb Green…

She hopes to open the lodge, attached to Summit Lodge, in 2019. Offering up to 135 hotel rooms, which could be packaged for sale as up to 80 condos, Vista Lodge is designed to complement Blue Mountain’s winter sports, restaurant, catering and events venue and other recreational offerings, such as a zip-line course and mountain biking.

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Green has said the project is contingent on construction of the PennEast Pipeline, which would bring natural gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale extraction region to Blue Mountain.

The resort does not have natural gas available now, and Green wants to tap into the line to build a combined heat and power plant to power the development and an associated, new hot springs spa complex.

New York Times Pinpoints State’s Energy Problem Without Knowing It?

A New York Times article on the state’s energy and electric grid challenges explains everything, although its unclear the author realized it. Here’s the relevant stuff:

Coal, the original fuel, is on the way out. The state has announced plans to close the remaining plants or convert them to natural gas, which is currently cheap and plentiful.

In 2015, 64 plants that use natural gas produced almost half the electricity in the state, said the New York Independent System Operator, a nonprofit that runs the state’s grid and power markets…

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s recent decision to force the closing of the Indian Point power plant in suburban Westchester County has raised questions about the state’s ability to meet its clean energy goals and how it will make up for the energy the plant provides…

The cost of building wind and solar plants has fallen, but these power sources are intermittent. Until more storage is plugged into the grid, like batteries or pumped hydro plants, which pump water into reservoirs to store power for later use, other generators must be available to supplement solar and wind power.

A standard part of the electric arsenal are generators called “peakers,” which are needed to keep the grid reliable but might run only a few days a year. New York City has about 16 such plants, mostly around the waterfront, which spring into action on the hottest days of the year or if transmission lines or power plants upstate malfunction. Some sit on barges, and all are designed to switch on quickly. The trade-off for the rapid response is usually higher costs and carbon emissions.

As a result, customers pay for plants and wires that “a lot of the time are hardly used,” said Mr. Kauffman, the energy czar.

There you have it—in a nutshell. Natural gas is used to make half the electricy but Cuomo is  creating a crisis that will require more energy. Solar and wind aren’t going to get it done  because they’re intermittent, not baseload, generators. Using more hydro requires more power lines and/or pumped storage in the Hudson Valley which elitist New Yorkers have opposed from the days of the Storm King controversy in the name of social privilege. Increased reliance on renewables, therefore, demands backup power in the form of natural gas plants that are only infrequently used and, consequently, expensive to keep. The results are much higher prices and much less reliability than if natural gas was used in the first place, but that requires more pipelines New Yorkers don’t want either. Get it? Most people do, all but New Yorkers that is.

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6 thoughts on “Natural Gas NOW Picks of the Week – December 30, 2017

  1. This cold snap might just be the experience to jar enough New Englanders to more fully engage in this whole pipeline, natgas, electricity, ‘staying warm in the winter’ narrative.

    The vast majority of the attention has been placed on the committed, know nothing zealots who continuously claimed that new pipelines were unnecessary.

    As people open up their electric bills in the coming weeks (wholesale pricing has been above $200/Mwh constantly for days now – almost 10 times the norm), the outrage may well produce some tangible infrastructure build out in the future.

  2. I live off grid and use solar and wind to power most things in my home except heat, hot water and most of our cooking. Without gas, in this case, propane living off grid would not be economically feasible. Both these energy sources used together can ensure lower prices, more reliability and extend our precious finite gas resource.

    • Nothing wrong with what you say except that natural gas is not finite. The Earth is continually producing it and we produce it with landfills and sewage treatment plants and other sources such as cow manure pits.

  3. It tickles me pink that the NYC ‘green-zealots’ are now being punished with the terrifically high prices that come with restricted/unavailable gas pipeline capacity! And if they think power pricing is high now, just wait until Indian Point closes (at The Guv’s insistence)!

    Yes, the broad, obvious-to-most lesson is that when private enterprise is stymied from filling economic niches, the predictable result is that prices will eventually feel like ‘gouging’ is occurring.

    Now that we see what is happening to gas, I wonder also what the story will be with propane, since pipeline capacity is still hindered by inadequate near-the-end storage in New York.

    Luckily, for NYC and NE USA consumers, Crestwood built its new rail-to-truck loading facility in Montgomery, N.Y. to help feed the NY downstate area and also up to northeast USA. The net effect is to reduce the distance that propane must be moved by truck, thus reducing end-user propane costs.

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