Is natural gas really a good deal?
I tend to be an optimistic guy. I’m also pretty careful with the little money I make. So, a few years ago as the price of heating oil began to rise, I decided to switch to heating my little house trailer with propane. At the time, propane was a good deal. I had to purchase a rather expensive but efficient Rinnai heater. I was satisfied with how clean, quiet and inexpensive propane heat was.
That lasted a couple of years and then the price of propane skyrocketed. I’m sure that reflected global demand or cost of production or freight costs or maybe just whatever the traffic would bear — I don’t know. But I do know heating with propane is not a good deal anymore.
Now the city of Homer is promoting running natural gas lines all over town to save everyone money on heating costs. I’m all for saving money. I’d love to see our hospitals, schools and city buildings save money, as well as our homes and businesses.
In spite of my optimism, I keep remembering the spike in the cost of both oil and propane, and a bit of a doubt keeps creeping up on me. I read that natural gas demand will greatly exceed supply by 2014, just two years from now. Is this really a good deal for the people of Homer?
My son tells me that a large commercial wind generator, such as utilities are installing all over the world, costs about one million dollars. I look at the long ridge of Bald Mountain back behind Homer and think we should put all the millions we’d need to spend on gas lines and new equipment to burn it into a line of wind generators. The big power line from Bradley Lake to Anchorage already runs just below Bald Mountain. The electric power distribution system is already built and supplies most homes in our area. The most efficient way to use natural gas may be to build an electric power generator in Anchor Point. As the price of natural gas rises, and as we develop tidal, wind and wave power, we can phase out gas and tie into the same system.
Ageya up on Crossman Ridge is using its new wind turbine to produce all its power needs. Why not Homer? The price of wind is not likely to rise.
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