CEA Energy Industry Update II

The Consumer Energy Alliance provided an overview on natural gas and electricity markets, important sectors to Pennsylvania given development of the state’s shale resources and the state-based power plants that power the grid in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

The majority of those power plants now are fueled by natural gas delivered through pipelines.

The tele-town hall was the latest in a series that CEA is providing to keep members updated about the energy industry and energy policy during the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. CEA is a longtime member of the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance.

Featured speakers included Tradition Energy’s Market Research Director Gary Cunningham, who discussed trends in natural gas markets over the past several weeks, projections for what is to come in the markets going forward, and their impacts on prices for both natural gas and electricity.

Mandated shutdowns of industrial, commercial and retail sectors are affecting energy demand loads and upending markets, with prices dropping considerable. But, that price decline also can be an opportunity for large users who want to try to lock in long-term contracts at reduced rates, Cunningham said.

On the other hand, residential demand has increased, with more people sheltered in place and working from home. Usage is anything but normal or traditional, with peak hours moving throughout the day.

The focus for policy-makers remains keeping these essential utility and delivery systems operational while brining even more of the supply chain back online.

CEA Policy Advisor Michael Zehr closed out the tele-town hall by providing an overview of recent and upcoming federal legislation and programs that have passed, as well as what to expect from Capitol Hill in the coming weeks. Congress continues to look at additional legislative proposals, especially a larger infrastructure program that would include energy. The proposals are pending.

Zehr also said he expects bipartisan support focused on revitalizing the U.S. supply chain, such as critical minerals vital to energy production and grid security, as well as investments to help manufacturers get back up and running.