There is nothing more valuable in the world today than sources of clean energy. As alarming climate changes and environmental pollution produce an ever-growing crisis, companies in the global energy sector search for new ways to power the planet without leaving behind a trail of destruction. Natural gas presents a nearly ideal solution to this problem.
Why Use Natural Gas?
The search for clean energy has led to numerous ingenious developments in this industry over the past decade, none as simple, and attainable as natural gas. It’s potential to substantially impact the environment has already been seen here in the United States, where we actually have a considerable supply of it.
Reports from the EPA suggest that natural gas produces far fewer emissions than other commonly used energy resources, such as coal or oil, when burned to produce electricity. Natural gas requires minimal water resources, and does not generate any solid waste products. Most remarkably, natural gas produces a negligible amount of emissions transported. Other energy sources such as coal and oil are transported through large vehicles such as trucks and trains, which are notorious for releasing harmful emissions into the environment. You’ve no doubt seem these emissions while waiting at railroad crossings, or caught a whiff of its acrid scent while stuck behind a truck in traffic. Natural gas on the other hand is supplied to consumers through an extensive, national underground pipe system.
The Use of Natural Gas in the United States
Millions of people in America are using natural gas already in their homes, but are unaware of the benefits they’re reaping from this eco-friendly fuel. The US Energy Information Administration reports that nearly 26.70 trillion cubic feet of natural gas was consumed in the year 2014. In fact, around 21% of the entire US population uses natural gas (this excludes the usage of industrial consumers).
Natural Gas Price
There are a lot of other eco-friendly energy resources out there. However, very few of them have the potential to meet our energy demands in the way natural gas can. This is primarily due to cost. The reason why some clean energy resources never become popular is because they drain consumers’ wallets. If we can’t afford the fuel, then it doesn’t really matter how environmentally friendly it may be. When asked to choose between an expensive eco-friendly energy fuel and a cheaper one that causes pollution, people will end up picking the latter option. Natural gas is an exception when it comes to eco-friendly energy resources. Since it is produced right here in the United States, this clean energy fuel doesn’t come with a hefty price tag, making it a viable solution to the current energy crisis.
What Does Natural Gas Have to Offer?
Now as reasonable as natural gas may seem as a solution to the energy crisis, it is by no means perfect. Natural gas does produce some air emissions, and the collection method could also harm the environment to a certain extent. However, the overall negative impact it has on the environment is far less when compared to other popular fuels, including one we currently use. Natural gas providers aim to minimize environmental damage during natural gas extraction. With so many advantages over coal and oil, it won’t be long before natural gas dominates the global energy sector as a clean and eco-friendly energy solution.
Understanding Your Energy Bill
With how many bills Americans keep track of these days, it’s understandable why the average person doesn’t bother reading through them. Most of us are content to just send in our payments every month, often automatic recurring payments, without really giving it a second thought. However, closely monitoring not just the cost of energy, but your household’s average consumption per month, could potentially save you some money. You don’t have much control over the cost of energy. However, that should not stop you from controlling the amount of energy being consumed in your household. By limiting your energy consumption, you can significantly reduce your monthly and yearly expenses. However, before you can do any of that, you need to first learn how to read your energy bill.
Making the Energy Bill a Common Topic of Conversation
If there is more than one person in your household, then everyone in the house should understand energy usage and how it relates to the monthly energy bill. Most parents think that asking their kids to turn the lights off or close the refrigerator is enough to keep the energy bills low. The members of your household should be more involved in the conversation about energy consumption. The energy usage and the energy bill should be a common topic of discussion in your house.
Take Note of the Changes
When the energy bill is handed to you every month, you need to take some time to review the usage comparison portion. Most energy bills have graphs now that show you how much you used for the month, comparing your consumption to last month, or even last year. You can’t adjust your energy usage if you don’t know where you are using too much. Consider adjusting when, or how often you run that AC. Perhaps be a little more diligent turning off lights and electronics that are not in use. This way you are purchasing only the amount of energy you actually used, minimizing waste, and controlling your monthly budget.
Features of a Typical Energy Bill
If you are reading an energy bill for the very first time, then the contents of the page may seem like Greek to you. Most people go right to the total amount due and either pay up, or panic, thinking there must’ve been a mistake or their energy company must be ripping them off. The information on the energy bill may look unimportant and boring, but understanding it will help you curb down your energy consumption considerably.
In a typical energy bill, you can expect to find your account number at the very top of the first page followed by an account summary which gives you a wrap up of your current charges. The specific dates for payment are usually mentioned in the first page and are accompanied by the charges for a late payment. You will also find a gas usage history in your energy bill, which helps you compare your current rate of consumption with your previous rates. Most energy bills contain a special message from the natural gas provider, which addresses topics such as promotional offers, bonuses and rate plans. Last but not least, you will be provided with a list of different payment options to choose from.
How Are Energy Bills Calculated?
Most of the energy bills handed out to consumers are estimated. The accuracy of the energy bill depends on two main factors:
- regular reading from your gas meter provided to the supplier
- meter readers that are designed to ease the process of calculating your energy bill
An energy bill can be broken down into several components:
- Wholesale energy, supply costs and profit margin
- Charges for Distribution
- Charges for Transmission
- Environmental Charges
- Miscellaneous Costs
Something to be aware of that affects your energy bill is timing. During high usage times, such as afternoons when most people have their AC on, prices may be a little higher than normal. Understanding how your energy company operates and when those usage high-times occur is just another way for you to manage your energy bill.
Did You Find Any Discrepancies in the Energy Bill?
People who have a good understanding of how to read their energy bills may find discrepancies in the contents of the bill. If you do notice any inconsistencies in the number or if you feel that you are paying more than what you should be, then your best option is to immediately contact your natural gas provider. In most cases, they will offer to help you understand your energy bill and clear up any misconceptions that you may have.
Natural Gas Providers
The Big Players
The production of natural gas in the United States has grown steadily since the year 2006. It is undoubtedly one of the biggest energy resources that the country has and one that consumers are heavily dependent upon.
You would be surprised to know that there are more than 14,000 oil and gas providers in the US. Many of these natural gas providers are small businesses that have a very limited market share. The major players in the natural gas industry are, as you can probably guess, the multinational giants such as Exxon Mobil and BP. The top 10 natural gas providers in the United States account for nearly one third of the entire market supply, according to the Natural Gas Supply Association. It is also worth noting that the 40 biggest natural gas pumpers produce more than 50% of the domestic natural gas supply. It’s really no wonder that the smaller gas companies struggle to secure any considerable market share.
Exxon Mobil- The Biggest Supplier of Natural Gas
This behemoth of a company is not only the largest provider of natural gas, but also the country’s biggest oil company. It is one of the most profitable corporations in the entire world and one that will continue to dominate this space for a very long time to come. To get a picture of how big Exxon Mobil really is, you need to look at their global operations. This corporation has marked its presence in nearly every continent of the world, with the exception of Antarctica. In the United States alone, Exxon Mobil has established gas and oil operations across numerous states. The gas operations range from Pennsylvania to Colorado. You can also find Exxon Mobil wells in the Gulf of Mexico as well as in seas bordering the coast of California.
Another way of assessing the success of Exxon Mobil in this field is by taking a look at this company’s numbers in competition. After purchasing XTO, Exxon now produces 50% more natural gas than its nearest competitor. In other words, the company in second position is a long way off. To sustain their dominance as the largest natural gas provider, Exxon has been running ad campaigns that promote natural gas as a safe, clean and efficient source of domestic energy. These ad campaigns will only enhance the demand for natural gas in the coming years and give Exxon more valid reasons to expand their operations. Two thirds of the company’s domestic reserves are in natural gas. The remaining third is in oil.
In terms of revenue, Exxon is the 8th largest company in the world. It is also billed as the third largest publicly traded company by market capitalization. Fortune 500 ranked the company as the second most profitable in the year 2014. Based in Irving, Texas, this mega company earned $268.88 billion in revenue in the year 2015.
Founded in the year 1989 and based in Oklahoma City, Chesepeke Energy claims to be the most active driller in the country. It operates in 15 different states stretching from the Rockies to Texas to Pennsylvania. This company is a very good example of how “independent” businesses can scale the heights. The number of gas wells owned by this company exceeds 45,000. Majority of those are gas wells.
Even though Chesapeke Energy has structured itself as a major gas provider, it is constantly looking for opportunities to get into other energy markets. Its revenue for the year 2015 was $12.74 billion.
Anadarko, while not as recognizable as Exxon Mobile or BP, is one of the biggest independent natural gas providers in the country. Established in 1959, Anadarko is headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas. In 2015, the company earned $8.68 billion in revenue. In addition to exploration and production, the company is involved in the gathering, processing and treating of natural gas. The company has expanded its operations to international locations including South America, Africa, Asia and New Zealand. Natural gas accounts for more than 50% of Andarko’s reserves.