Fueled by the unconventional onshore revolution, U.S. natural gas costs less, is safer and increasingly is more plentiful, according to the American Gas Association (AGA).
The AGA’s 2015 Playbook, which was released Wednesday, makes the case that U.S. consumers are saving money and reducing their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions footprint by using more gas. And it says gas has become a driving force in the nation’s economy.
Between 2012 and 2013, consumers paid about $40 less for gas use in residences for things such as heating, cooking and clothes drying, the Playbook said. Overall annual savings rose to $693 from $653 in 2012. The savings were calculated in comparison to households using other energy sources (electricity, fuel oil, etc.).
In the same two-year comparison, CO2 emissions from domestic gas use dropped by a half a million metric tons. And by AGA's measurements, member distribution utilities cut methane emissions from their pipeline systems by 6% in 2014 through continued upgrading and modernization of their systems.
In regard to safety measurements, AGA said pipeline incidents declined by nearly 40% during the past 30 years as the industry pushed for safety improvements and met increasingly challenging federal and state standards.
"Natural gas utilities spend $19 billion annually and take a number of voluntary actions to help enhance the safety of gas distribution and transmission systems," a spokesperson said.
Emissions from the nation's distribution pipeline systems have dropped 22% since 1990, a period during which the industry added 660,000 miles of pipelines to serve an additional 17 million customers, the report said.
Nationally, half of the states now have natural gas growth initiatives to expand infrastructure. In addition, 38 states at the end of 2014 had adopted specific utility rate mechanisms for accelerating pipeline replacement and enhancement programs.
In terms of energy efficiency, AGA member utilities invested more than $1 billion in energy efficiency in the 2012-2013 period, representing a $100 million increase.