Frigid temperatures show why Ohio’s energy infrastructure is essential: Vanessa Hamilton (Opinion)

Guest Columnist Vanessa Hamilton is executive vice president for business development at Utility Pipeline Ltd. and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Ohio Gas Association.

A severe cold snap will remind us how much we appreciate warmth. For a majority of Ohioans, natural gas is making a comfortable “welcome home” possible. In fact, nearly seven out of every 10 Ohio homes utilize natural gas as a primary source for heat.

We should also consider that natural gas not only powers a cozy home, but also a hot meal, warm showers and dozens of other essential daily needs. Natural gas supplies all this, all year, at affordable rates and with dependable delivery systems.

Our use of natural gas is significant, and so is Ohio’s production and transport of natural gas. In 2016, Ohio produced enough natural gas to heat and cool more than one million homes and businesses.

Nearly 100 percent of Ohio-produced natural gas stays right here in our state, coming to us through safe, underground infrastructure systems. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, pipelines are the safest, most environmentally friendly way to transfer natural gas to our homes, businesses, hospitals and manufacturing plants.

As Ohio’s natural gas production and usage have increased in recent years, so has the necessity to safely transport it. Our gas infrastructure is made possible by natural gas producers and suppliers, public utilities and pipeline companies that serve interstate and local community needs.

Our company – Utility Pipeline Ltd. — owns and operates natural gas distribution systems for subdivisions, rural communities, federal and state facilities, industrial sites and lake communities in Ohio and throughout the Midwest. I know firsthand the extensive oversight and regulation that goes into building and maintaining quality pipelines.

State and local elected officials and regulators, as well as other key stakeholders, work with gas industry engineers and builders to ensure safety, as well as system integrity and reliability.  Consider that by moving gas underground, we are able to decrease use of fuel and our highways in truck transport. Underground systems are safer and much more reliable.

Contributing to pipeline safety and dependability is the increased use of modern materials, such as protected steel and plastic piping, in new installations or in replacement and maintenance of older systems. As new pipelines are constructed in Ohio and existing lines are updated, new technologies and advancements in energy engineering are applied.

In the short term, weather experts are predicting continued frigid temperatures. Ohioans can be thankful we have abundant, home-grown energy to keep us warm.

In the long term, our state will continue growing our energy economy and the infrastructure to support it. Ohioans can be assured that those of us in the energy industry are doing all we can to power their homes and businesses reliably and safely.