Letter that the Dispatch did not publish:
In a letter to the Dispatch (10 Aug., 2017) Jeremy Kitson complained about possible legislation to reduce the distance separating wind farms from residences. Mr. Kitson also noted that the State has complete say in specifying wind-farm locations. Although it is not clear what distance (known as setback) will be in the proposed legislation, 1300 feet appears to be a likely guess, based on news reports.
Setbacks for oil and gas wells are much smaller. Ohio law (Section 1509.021) includes setbacks of 100 feet from rural homes and 50 feet from water supplies for oil and gas wells. As it is for wind, locations of oil and gas wells are determined by the State; local governments have no say.
Neighbors of oil and gas wells have bigger problems that neighbors of wind farms.
Shale jobs have been decreasing for several years. According to the latest data, there were only about half as many core jobs, such as drilling and pipeline construction, as there were three years earlier (1). At under 10,000, job creation is a small fraction of the Chamber of Commerce prediction of 60,000 (2)
Only part of the difference between prediction and reality can be attributed to auxiliary jobs, such as truck driving. Since Jobs and Family Services (1) only has the total number of truck drivers, they assign those drivers to shale jobs, even the unknown number working for FedEX and other companies. Therefore the tens of thousands reported auxiliary jobs (1) are likely to be greatly exaggerated.
(1) Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, Ohio Shale Quarterly Reports, http://ohiolmi.com/OhioShale/OhioShale.htm, accessed 21 April 2017.
(2) Ohio Chamber of Commerce Educational Foundation; Economic Potential for Shale Formations in Ohio, n. d.
My periodic reminder that Ohio is a small player in natural gas production. As of July, 2015 we are ninth among the states, producing about three percent of the national total. Our oil production is less than one percent of the national total. This is not to deny that our progress has been impressive. 2014 saw our previous natural gas record from 1984 broken spectacularly by a factor of 2.6. To follow production go to: http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/NG_PROD_SUM_DC_SOH_MMCF_A.htm
We still import about half of the natural gas that we use. For consumption history go to: http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/ng_cons_sum_dcu_SOH_a.htm. Coal is similar; we produce a little more than half of what we consume. See: http://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=OH
Over the past decade, residential energy use in Ohio has gone down – not by much, but the trend is there. For the three major sources:
Energy Source Residential Usage, 2005 Average Rate of Decline
Natural Gas 323 billion cubic ft. 1.4 percent per year
Gasoline 5.12 billion gallons 0.8 percent per year
Electricity 54 billion kWh 0.2 percent per year
The current trend for natural gas is the extension of a long-term trend. The annual decrease of well over one percent has been going at least since 1968. The average Ohioan used about 65,000 cubic feet in 2013. (http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/hist/n3010oh2a.htm).
Gasoline Usage reached its all-time high in 1978 and is virtually unchanged over the past 20 years. A car getting 25 miles per gallon and travelling 12,000 miles per year uses almost 500 gallons of gasoline annually http://www.eia.gov/state/seds/data.cfm?incfile=/state/seds/sep_use/tra/use_tra_OH.html&sid=OH
Electricity usage climbed steadily from 1990 onward, but has plateaued since 20005. The average Ohioan uses about 900 kWh per month. See U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-861, “Annual Electric Power Industry Report.”
There is no doubt that the coal industry has problems. Prices are lower than they were a few years ago. At the same time less coal is being used for generating electricity. The over-dramatic term ‘War on Coal’ has been used to describe this situation. If there is a war, there is an enemy – and coal’s enemy is natural gas. In Ohio, about 85% of coal’s loss of tonnage supplied to power plants is due to natural gas. Renewables provide less two percent of Ohio’s electricity and they hardly consist of a threat.
COAL PRICE: After rising to a high above $80 per ton in 2011, coal prices have mostly been between $50 and $60 for the past two years (infomine.com).
ELECTRICITY GENERATION BY COAL: NATIONAL – Use of coal by electric power plants has decreased by almost 20% over the past ten years (LLL, Estimated U.S. Energy Use, issued annually). OHIO – the percentage loss is almost as great over the past five years (EIA, Electric Power Monthly, February issue each year).
Over the last ten Years residential electric rates in Ohio have increased by almost fifty percent, while the prices paid by electric utilities for natural gas have decreased by about the same percentage. Over the same period prices of natural gas for home heating and cooking have only decreased by about twenty percent.
In 2013 Ohioans spent about $375 more per household on electricity than they did in 2005 but saved about $240 per household on natural gas over 2005 rates.
So the natural gas boom is costing us about $135 per year.
Sources: EIA: Electric Power Monthly and Natural Gas Monthly (Feb. issue each year) plus Census Bureau