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.
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.
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.
Clarksville city officials are awaiting federal approval for a new natural gas pipeline that is expected to ensure service and lower rates to city residents.
The pipeline will be used in conjunction with the existing line south of the city. Clarksville Gas and Water Director Pat Hickey said the pipeline redundancy will allow for uninterrupted service if the older line fails.
The Kentucky Public Service Commission accepted a settlement increasing the base electric and natural gas rates for Kentucky Utilities Company and Louisville Gas and Electric Company customers. The rate increases take effect Jan. 1. The average monthly bill for a KU residential customer will increase around $5. LG&E electric customers can expect around a $4 increase and natural gas customers a $5.50 increase.
Ameren Illinois officials say consumers should expect natural gas prices this winter to be similar to last year’s prices. The Peoria-based gas delivery company serves 1.2 million electric and more than 800,000 natural gas customers in southern and central Illinois. Ameren gas supply manager Ken Dothage says prices should stay the same this winter because North American gas supply has increased. He says slower U.S. and global economies along with a decreased worldwide demand for energy also play a role in the steady price of natural gas.
The Tennessee Valley Authority's reliance on coal has dropped and the use of natural gas as fuel to generate electricity has increased. The Commercial Appeal reports TVA's use of gas climbed 70 percent in the fiscal year ended September 30. At the same time, coal-fired generation declined 30 percent from fiscal year 2011.
Natural gas provides an increasingly large share of the country’s electricity. And now, the fuel is growing in popularity as an alternative to gasoline. A new Louisville plant is betting that natural gas as a vehicle fuel is a technology that will be around for decades or longer.