Newfound abundance of natural gas is game changer

Bernard Weinstein, an economist and associate director of SMU's Maguire Energy Institute, writes about the potential for natural gas that's locked in shale formations.

By Bernard Weinstein

Steven Hayward misstates the role natural gas can play in Texas and elsewhere (in the February 14 edition of The Washington Examiner).

The Energy Information Administration recently adjusted its 25-year natural gas production estimates upward and its price predictions downward. The Congressional Research Service has observed that many clean new natural gas plants that could be used for base load power are now being used as "peaking units," operating on standby 42 percent of the time. What's more, EIA estimates that when both capital and operating costs are considered, electricity from natural gas plants opening in 2016 will be cheaper than coal.

The Lone Star State imports nearly two-thirds of its coal at an annual cost of almost $2 billion. That makes no sense since Texas is endowed with huge shale gas reserves. The shale gas revolution has changed the energy equation, and this newfound abundance will translate into long-term price and market stability, ensuring Texas' -- and America's -- energy security.

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