December 20, 2019 at 5:00 am ET
As the winter sets in and temperatures drop, demand for heat and power to our homes increases, as do many energy bills.
In some parts of our country, where there’s a lack of adequate infrastructure and, in turn, access to affordable energy, keeping the house warm can be financially challenging. Thankfully, this burden has been eased for families and businesses in regions nearby and connected to the Shale Crescent USA region of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, which is a true blessing during this holiday season.
New data illustrate how deeply the burden has been lifted. According to a recent economic analysis, over the past decade, consumers in the Shale Crescent region of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have realized an incredible $92 billion in savings. The savings — for households, businesses, manufacturers and electric power generators — have come from lower natural gas prices, an input which is in almost all goods and services.
Lower energy costs lead the way in delivering cost-savings to American families. End-users throughout the nation have saved $1.1 trillion over the past decade. The study, prepared by Kleinhenz & Associates, concluded that the Shale Crescent region accounts for 85 percent of the growth in natural gas production in the United States, thanks to advances in developing the Marcellus and Utica Shale deposits beneath those states.
The dramatic increase in natural gas production has helped to bring down the cost of energy, with a 65 percent decrease in natural gas prices over the past 10 years. When allocating the entire $1.1 trillion savings over 10 years from every sector to each household in America, the yield is approximately $9,000 of savings per household.
Not only will more affordable goods line the shelves of our favorite stores this holiday season, but families have more buying power now, thanks to natural gas. For the lowest income households, the study revealed lower natural gas prices resulted in savings equivalent to a 2.7 percent boost in household income over the past 10 years. New manufacturing jobs and infrastructure development will follow as businesses continue to reinvest this money back into communities.
Businesses are taking notice of the cost-savings opportunities. Shell’s $6 billion petrochemical plant under construction in Pennsylvania is the first indication of the Shale Crescent’s potential to become the nation’s second petrochemical manufacturing hub. Other potential developers are showing interest, as well, led by the highly anticipated possibility for Thailand-based PTT Global Chemical to build a facility in eastern Ohio.
The future is bright for the people of the Shale Crescent region and Americans everywhere, especially as more pipelines and other critical infrastructure is built to connect them to more affordable U.S. natural gas supplies. As families save and earn more money from reliable, clean natural gas production, companies are seizing the opportunity and expanding their operations in Appalachia, revitalizing our communities and manufacturing base.
As you enjoy your time with family and friends this holiday season, remember how natural gas development is keeping you warm and secure, benefitting you and your community, and how it will continue to do so for decades to come.
Jerry James is the president of Artex Oil and co-founder of Shale Crescent USA, an economic development initiative that aims to drive growth and investment in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Morning Consult welcomes op-ed submissions on policy, politics and business strategy in our coverage areas. Updated submission guidelines can be found here.