Water & Electricity & Natural Gas: A Connection


About one fifth of electricity in the United States comes from natural gas power plants. Water is required first to extract natural gas from its underground source and then to transform the fuel’s chemical energy into electricity. Water for Natural Gas | Union of Concerned Scientists (ucsusa.org)

What is the outlook for home heating fuel prices this winter?

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) publishes forecasts for U.S. average annual and monthly residential prices of natural gas, heating oil, and electricity in the tables of the Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO). There are national-level average prices in Table 2, and there are regional forecasts for residential natural gas prices in Table 5.b and for residential electricity prices in Table 7c.

Every year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) publishes updates to its Annual Energy Outlook (AEO), which provides long-term projections of energy production and consumption in the United States using EIA’s National Energy Modeling System (NEMS). The AEO update for 2022 (AEO2022) includes projections through 2050 given certain specified assumptions and methodologies.

Most electricity is generated using steam turbines

  • Fossil Fuels - the largest sources of energy for electricity generation  
    • Coal - second-largest energy source for U.S. electricity generation in 2021—about 22%.
    • Natural gas - about 38%—of U.S. electricity generation in 2021.
      • used in steam turbines and gas turbines to generate electricity.
    • Petroleum - was the source of less than 1% of U.S. electricity generation in 2021
  • Nuclear energy - was the source of about 19% of U.S. electricity generation in 2021.
  • Renewable energy sources - about 20% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2021.
    • Biomass
    • Geothermal  - Geothermal Energy (ca.gov)
      • the Geysers, the world’s largest geothermal field, is in Sonoma, Lake, and Mendocino counties.
      • Salton Sea area - Imperial County
        • With the opportunity to develop lithium from geothermal brine in the Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area, the Lithium Valley Commission is directed to review, investigate, and analyze opportunities and benefits for lithium recovery and use in the state. A final report is due to the State Legislature by October 1, 2022.  Lithium Valley Commission (ca.gov)  Progress of report:   California Energy Commission : Docket Log
        • Assembly Bill 1657 (2020) is the Lithium Valley Commission’s Implementing Legislation
      • Coso Hot Springs - Inyo County, 
      • Mammoth Lakes - Mono County.
    • Solar Thermal Energy
      • Solar Photovoltaics
    • Hydro Turbines
    • Wind Turbines 

Electricity generation capacity is the maximum electric output an electricity generator can produce under specific conditions.

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