U.S. natural gas use for power generation rose 7%, or approximately 515 Bcf, in 2010 from the prior year, with most of the growth coming in the Southeast, according to an analysis by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

“The biggest changes in natural gas use occurred in the Southeast United States, where state-level natural gas deliveries from 2009 to 2010 increased by between 5% and 24%,” the agency said.

“This region, which is highly dependent on natural gas-fired generation for electricity, experienced 17% higher heating degree days in the winter and 23% higher cooling degree days in summer compared to 30-year normal ranges.” The weather-driven demand, combined with low natural gas prices, boosted gas deliveries for electricity generation in 2010, the EIA said.

In contrast, gas demand for generation in the western United States fell last year due to increased hydroelectric generation in the Pacific Northwest along with cooler-than-normal summer weather, the agency noted.

Total natural gas deliveries to consumers in the United States grew about 4% to around 22 Tcf in 2010. Industrial gas demand was up by 6% last year, while deliveries to residential and commercial consumers remained relatively unchanged from their 2009 levels, the EIA said.

In 2010 Louisiana led the nation in per-capita natural gas consumption due to a combination of its modest population of 4.5 million and the size of its industrial gas deliveries.

The EIA analysis further showed that on a per-capita basis by sector gas use for power dominates in Florida, Nevada, Arizona, New Hampshire and Mississippi; residential and commercial gas use together anchors deliveries in northern-tier states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Montana; and, along with Louisiana, industrial gas use accounted for the majority of 2010 deliveries in interior states such as Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

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