Ohio’s Natural Gas Boom ?

Ohio produced twice as much natural gas last year than it did in 2012. Results so far for this year show another strong increase – gas production in the first quarter was 40 percent of that for the entire year 2013. It sounds like a huge boom until we look at it in perspective:

  • Natural gas production in Ohio peaked in the mid-eighties and declined until last year’s strong jump. While production came close to the highest levels, 2013 was only the fourth best year in history.
  • Production in our neighboring states is much higher. Pennsylvania produces almost twenty times the natural gas that Ohio does and we would have to triple production to match West Virginia.
  • Up through 2012, Ohioans were using much more gas than the state was producing. Production was providing only about 10-15 percent of our needs. While consumption data for 2013 are not yet available, we probably produced about 20 percent of what we consumed last year.

In short, the gas boom has gotten Ohio back to where we were thirty years ago. Perhaps a little tempering of rhetoric is called for.

Data were obtained from EIA and state natural resources web sites.

Ohio Renewable Energy Potential

Critics of renewable energy often state that Ohio has poor wind compared to Iowa. This is true; According to the AWEA web site Iowa has ten times the potential of Ohio. In fact, all of the states to the west of us have greater potential than does Ohio. However, Ohio still has the potential to produce all of its electricity from wind.  There is surely enough to easily satisfy the goals of our renewable energy law (127-SB221).

Ohio Residential Energy Usage

I decided to estimate the energy used by the typical Ohio family. There are many estimates of typical energy use, but there are problematical for two reasons:

1. Many estimates use per capita energy, which includes items families have no control over, such as industrial usage.

2. Energy usage depends heavily on climate because of the demands of heating and cooling. I wanted to make an Ohio specific estimate.

The results are given in the table below, with references for the reader to translate the results to other states. The table has two clear points:

1. Cars use over a third of the household energy and half of the cost.

2. Electricity is the major cost within the house because natural gas is relatively cheap

Estimated Energy Usage and Cost for Ohio Households

Technology                     Energy                                 Monthly

kWh/yr               %                 Cost, $                     %


Car (1)                          19,000             37                    154                       49

House Gas (2)              21,000             41                      53                       17

House, electric (3)       11,000             22                     105                       34

House Total                 32,000             63                     158                       51

Grand Total                 51,000           100                     312                      100

Notes: Car data are national averages; house data are Ohio averages. To compare house and car, I have calculated the energy content of gasoline and natural gas..


(1) Data from the Center for Transportation Analysis; http://cta.ornl.gov/data/chapter4.shtml.
Conversion of gallons to kWh from U. of WA; http://www.ocean.washington.edu/courses/envir215/energynumbers.pdf:
Assumed gasoline price is $3.50/gal.

(2) Consumption from EIA, http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/ng_cons_sum_dcu_SOH_a.htm; number of households from Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html, conversion of ccf to kWh from DJC McKay “Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air”, (2009) p. 334 ; price from EIA,

(3) Data from EIA http://www.eia.gov/state/data.cfm?sid=OH#ConsumptionExpenditures & http://www.eia.gov/state/data.cfm?sid=OH#ConsumptionExpenditures