Natural Gas

Kenn W. Kiser, morgueFile.com

Coal-producing states are preparing for arguments next month in the federal appeals court case known as West Virginia v. EPA, challenging the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

When you flip on a light switch, odds are, you're burning coal. But as the fracking boom continues to unleash huge quantities of natural gas, the nation's electric grid is changing. Power plants are increasingly turning to this low-cost, cleaner-burning fossil fuel.

Bill Pentak stands in the middle of a construction site, looking up at his company's latest project towering overhead — a new natural gas power plant.

Despite the fact that the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline has been suspended, the companies behind the project are appealing a circuit court decision that found they don’t have the right of eminent domain.

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Members of the Kentucky interim joint committee on natural resources and the environment and a special energy subcommittee got an update Thursday on where natural gas is, and where it could head, in Kentucky.

Republican State Senator Jared Carpenter is chair of both committees and says natural gas will grow as a portion of the state’s energy sources, but not at the expense of coal.

“I think they are going to be a major player now, because the federal regulations are being so impossible, to reach the regulations they're wanting to pass. Coal is going to be impacted by it, like it has been, but coal's not going to go anywhere. Everybody understands the importance of 

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Construction crews have cleared about 60 percent of the land needed to begin building a new natural gas plant at the Paradise Fossil Plant in Muhlenberg County. The new plant is scheduled to open by Spring of 2017, and will take the place of two coal burning units currently in operation at the Tennessee Valley Authority facility. 

Atmos Energy Annual Rate Increase Approved

Apr 23, 2014
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Atmos Energy Corporation customers will see their bills rise after the company won approval for an $8 point 5 million annual revenue increase. The Kentucky Public Service Commission PSC stated that the adjusted rates will be “fair, just and reasonable.” 

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As the days begin to get colder, Kentucky will see higher natural gas prices.  On average, customers who use about ten thousand cubic feet of natural gas, can expect to pay about 19 percent more than last November.  Still, State Public Service Commission Spokesman Andrew Melnykovych says it’s far less than a few years ago.

“Natural gas prices are gonna continue to go up and down from year to year, but it’s going to be, at least for the foreseeable future within a fairly narrow range, you know, dollar or two whereas in the past we’ve had these massive spikes where it’s gone up a hundred percent or more in some instances in a very short period of time and crashed back down only to rise again,” said Melnykovych.

Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet

The Secretary of the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet said he’s a strong supporter of natural gas development as a source of energy in Kentucky and elsewhere. However, Len Peters said the country will be a lot better off with a blend of options.

“If all we do is move coal-dominated electricity generation to a natural gas electricity generation is not a good way to go," said Peters. "There’s no diversification in that. We have to be able to build coal. We have to be able to build natural gas. Nobody wants to build nuclear these days so we’re moving away from a more balanced set of opportunities.”

Government watchdog group Common Cause of Kentucky is urging Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear to call a special session this fall.

The session would seek to pass legislation protecting private landowners from companies wanting to use eminent domain for a controversial pipeline project. The Bluegrass Pipeline is being built by Williams Co. and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners of Texas.

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A natural gas leak Tuesday forced the evacuation of 885 Hopkins County High School students. No injuries were reported.

Hopkins County Sheriff Deputy Jeremy Crick said the leak started around mid-morning when an Atmos Energy service crew was performing routine maintenance in Mortons Gap. Crick said one of the crew accidentally ran over a connector pipe causing a cap to blow off. Emergency management officials notified the school as well as city authorities. Mayor Frank Stafford issued a mandatory evacuation of the area at 11:45 am. Traffic on US 41 was halted for several hours while fire crews shut off gas lines. Stafford said the evacuation of 400 residents was based more on the risk of an explosion rather than the risk of gas inhalation.

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