Natural-gas boom unlikely to end


Associated Press

TOLEDO

About a dozen natural-gas power plants are being built or are in the planning stages in Ohio, putting the industry on track to replace coal as the dominant source of electricity in the state.

A move last week by President Donald Trump’s administration to roll back environmental restrictions in an effort to help the coal industry isn’t likely to stop the shift.

What’s driving the transition is the cheap cost of natural gas from eastern Ohio’s shale fields, making it difficult for coal and nuclear plants to compete.

One industry leader says there’s still room for 15 more natural-gas plants to come online within the next decade.

“Ohio is in the catbird’s seat,” said Bill Siderewicz, owner of Boston-based Clean Energy Future LLC. “Not many states have this huge population with abundant, low-cost gas in your backyard.”

His company has two natural-gas plants under construction and two more under development. Its $850 million plant just east of Toledo is slated to open by midsummer.

Most of the projects are on the eastern side of the state near the natural-gas reserves. But new natural gas pipelines in the works should open up other areas to new plants.

Developers say that while Trump’s pledge to revitalize the coal industry may help keep open a few coal plants a little longer, it can’t change that the natural-gas plants are cheaper to operate and more advanced.

“With these pipelines being planned and power generators being planned, that will drive out the least economic fuel. And that’s coal right now,” said Don Mason, a member of the state’s Oil and Gas Commission.

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