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Powering up consumer savings with natural gas

Natural gas consumers can expect a 40% drop in home heating bills this winter, the West Virginia Public Service Commission recently confirmed. This, in its own right, is something worth celebrating, but it also speaks to the many ways local natural gas and oil development deliver for our state and all who live here — especially in today’s inflationary market.

“It is gratifying to see the wholesale prices coming down this year,” PSC Chair Charlotte Lane said. “I know this will make a big difference to West Virginia families this winter, and that means a lot.”

No stranger to harsh winters, West Virginians depend on consistent heating to stay warm and comfortable as temperatures drop. Natural gas is the most inexpensive way to heat and power homes, according to U.S. Department of Energy data, and about 3.3 times more affordable than electricity.

Modern natural gas heating systems are also highly efficient, converting a greater percentage of the fuel into usable heat compared to other energy sources. This efficiency not only reduces energy waste, but also directly translates into lower utility bills up to 53% for American consumers, federal data shows.

Unlocking more domestic energy — much of which is located in the Mountain State — is key to preserving these significant cost savings for residents and businesses alike. West Virginia sits atop the largest natural gas producing region in the United States and contributes roughly 10% of our nation’s total natural gas production, meaning we’re well equipped with the resources to provide affordable power statewide.

Yet despite being a top energy producer, West Virginia ranks among the bottom 10 for in-state natural gas fired power generation. Neighboring Pennsylvania and Ohio are putting these resources to use locally, receiving billions in investment to build new, highly-efficient combined cycle natural gas power plants.

The $3 billion, 1,800 megawatt natural gas power plant (CPV Shay Energy Center) slated for Doddridge County is an exciting step forward, but more needs to be done in order for us to fully realize the benefits affordable, reliable and clean natural gas power generation can provide.

What’s needed from state officials is an energy strategy that encourages West Virginia-produced natural gas for power generation to support reliability, improved air quality, affordability and to make our state more attractive for job-creating investment.

Enter the Grid Stabilization and Security Act of 2023 signed by Gov. Jim Justice earlier this year. The goal is to facilitate the construction of more in-state natural gas fired power plants and related infrastructure to support this buildout, while sending a strong message to investors that we are open for business.

Simply put — we must use this momentum to maintain a future of reliable and affordable power for consumers everywhere, and that requires a recognition from state lawmakers that natural gas is the key to realizing these benefits for the long-term.

Natural gas is a cornerstone of America’s energy strategy, and West Virginia is providing affordable, essential energy while supporting economic and job growth and environmental progress.

An investment in West Virginia natural gas is an investment in our homes, schools, and businesses.

By harnessing the power beneath our feet, natural gas will continue to pave the way for a brighter and more prosperous future across the Mountain State.

Charlie Burd is Executive Director of the Gas and Oil Association of West Virginia.

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