Natural gas infrastructure benefits Ohioans at many levels

Guest columnist Jimmy Stewart is currently the President of the Ohio Gas Association. Prior to joining the OGA, he served both in the Ohio House and Senate and was elected Ohio Senate Majority Leader.  

Natural gas infrastructure is the key to unlocking Ohio’s energy future. In addition to widespread economic benefits, projects like the NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline provide increased access to clean-burning natural gas that will help keep prices low for consumers.

A recent presentation by NEXUS to the Ohio Gas Association helped explain how the current project route will provide critical access to domestic supplies of affordable and clean energy to businesses and customers in Northern Ohio. Columbia Gas of Ohio recently reached an agreement with NEXUS to establish interconnects in Medina and Sandusky counties. This announcement marks the eighth Ohio commercial entity with plans to directly utilize the NEXUS pipeline, which will in turn provide benefits to many other private businesses and individuals.

As the energy industry moves toward cleaner power generation, natural gas and the infrastructure transporting natural gas will benefit Ohio customers and play a vital role in the nation’s transition to cleaner energy. Recent changes in federal guidelines require Ohio to reduce its baseline power sector emission rates by 28 percent by 2030.

Since natural gas is the cleanest burning conventional source of energy, it has a critical role to play in helping Ohio comply with these new guidelines. Not only is natural gas a cleaner alternative to coal plants, natural gas-fired plants are also cheaper to build than nuclear or renewable plants.

With the heightened demand for clean burning natural gas, pipeline infrastructure projects are essential for our economic growth and sustainability. If implemented on time, the NEXUS pipeline would be in-service in 2017 and able to help Ohio meet its emission reduction requirement as mandated by the federal government.

Pipelines are the lifeline for our everyday activities. The natural gas industry proudly and safely operates 2.4 million miles of distribution and transmission pipelines across the country to power more than 177 million Americans. Navigating through communities and farmlands, pipelines safely move energy every day to make our way of life possible. Every aspect of putting a pipeline into service, from pipeline design and construction through operation and standard maintenance is strictly regulated by state and federal agencies.

The continual advancements in technology and safety measures are in part what have made pipelines the safest, most efficient and environmentally friendly means of transporting natural gas.

The safe and responsible construction and operation of natural gas pipeline projects like NEXUS provide economic stimulus, capital investment and increased job opportunities even after they are put into service. More importantly, a lack of sufficient pipeline infrastructure can constrain market growth and potentially lead to reduced economic activity and price volatility for consumers.

It is apparent that Ohio consumers stand to benefit significantly from the construction of the NEXUS pipeline. Plans to work with Ohio’s largest natural gas utility serving approximately 1.4 million residential, commercial and industrial customers is just one advantage of the benefits that NEXUS will bring to the region.

For the sustainability of Ohio’s energy future and to meet the growing demand from homes, businesses and industries, the NEXUS pipeline must be approved, constructed and put into service without delay.