Northeast Households Picking Gas, EIA Says
Although the Northeast consumes a lower percentage of natural
gas than does the rest of the nation, it ranks as the most popular
energy fuel in regional households, according to a new study issued
by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Natural gas accounted for 23%, or 3.27 quadrillion Btus (quads),
of the 14 quads of energy that the region consumed in 1997, the
most recent figures available, reported the Department of Energy's
EIA last week in its "Regional Energy Profile: Northeast Data
Abstract." This compares to natural gas' share of 24% of total U.S.
energy consumption (94 quads) in 1997.
However, of the 20 million households in the Northeast region,
natural gas was used in 9.2 million homes as the main heating fuel,
and was followed by fuel oil in 7.1 million homes, and electricity
in 2.3 million homes, said Barbara Fichman, an EIA energy industry
specialist who authored the report. At the same time, about 45% of
the commercial floor space was heated with natural gas, and 34%
with fuel oil.
In contrast, the EIA study revealed that the demand rate for
fuel oil (distillate, residual and home heating oil) as a heating
fuel was significantly greater in the Northeast, accounting for
15.4% of total regional consumption in 1997, or 2.2 quads, compared
to 9.7% nationwide in 1997. The study tracks energy demand in the
Northeast Census Region, which includes the six New England states
and three Middle Atlantic states (New York, New Jersey and
Overall, the study estimated that household energy consumption
in the Northeast region was 2.4 quads, with the key sources listed
as electricity (0.1 trillion kWh); natural gas (1 Tcf); and fuel
oil 5.8 billion gallons. Significantly, it pointed out that while
gas was used in more households, the region's consumption of
electricity was greater. Also, Northeast customers paid more for
electricity in 1997 ($17 billion), with natural gas coming in
second at $9 billion and fuel oil next at $6 billion.
The unit costs for electricity, natural gas and liquefied
petroleum gas (LPG) are higher in the Northeast than in the rest of
the nation, according to EIA, but the average cost of energy,
$13.64 per MMBtu, is similar because of the region's heavy
dependency on fuel oil, which is the least expensive fuel on a Btu
The EIA put the commercial energy demand in the Northeast at 1
quad in 1995, compared to 5.3 quads nationwide. Of that market,
electricity accounted for 128 billion kWh, natural gas' share was
289 Bcf, and fuel oil's demand was 1.2 billion gallons. Annual
expenditures by commercial customers for electricity were $13
billion, far exceeding those for gas ($2 billion) and fuel oil
The study pegged energy by the Northeast manufacturing sector at
1,964 trillion Btu in 1994. EIA's Fichman conceded the figure was
very low because it didn't include energy feedstocks for a number
of industries, including forestry, mining, construction,
agriculture, and fisheries. Also, it didn't factor in the energy
demand (distillate, residual and gas) for public transportation
fleets, railroads, aircraft, barges and gas pipelines.
Of the 1,964 trillion Btu demand figure, the EIA reported
natural gas accounted for 518 trillion Btu; coal 458 trillion Btu;
electricity 321 trillion Btu; residual fuel oil 152 trillion Btu;
distillate fuel oil 42 trillion Btu; and LPG 34 trillion Btu.
Again, the biggest annual expenditures were for electricity ($6
billion), followed by natural gas ($2 billion), and coal ($0.08