Natural gas supporting jobs in Wisconsin

A new study from the American Petroleum Institute shows that in 2015, the natural gas industry supported nearly 75,000 jobs in Wisconsin — close to 3 percent of the total state workforce.

And the natural gas industry contributed about $9.1 billion to the state economy. That figure breaks down to $5.75 billion relating to end-use, $2.46 billion from the infrastructure segment, and $894 million from the production segment.

Wisconsin consumed 455 Bcf, or billions of cubic feet, of gas in 2015. The total value of this gas was $2.55 billion, and it was distributed to 1.9 million customers.

That 1.9 million customer base breaks down like this:

–Wisconsin’s 1.72 million residential natural gas customers consumed 127 Bcf in 2015; the average consumption was 74,000 cubic feet per household.

–For the 169,000 commercial customers in the state, 90 Bcf was enough to meet their needs in 2015; the average consumption was 532,000 cubic feet per commercial customer.

— The state’s 7,300 industrial natural gas customers consumed 137 Bcf with an average consumption of 19 million cubic feet of natural gas.

— And the last 101 Bcf, consumed by the state’s 65 natural gas-consuming power plants, represented 20 percent of power generation in the state, according to the API study.

Coal provided 52 percent of the state’s net electricity generation in 2016, per the U.S. Energy Information Administration. And while 16 percent of Wisconsin’s net generation came from nuclear power in 2016, 8.3 percent came from renewable energy resources: hydroelectric power, wind and biomass.

The study, which was performed by strategic consulting firm ICF International, gave a national perspective on the potential future benefits of shifting toward natural gas for energy production.

It argues that by 2040, American consumers will save an estimated $100 billion from the increased use of natural gas. In 2015, natural gas supported over 4 million jobs across the country, and is expected to support 6 million by 2040.

“America’s natural gas renaissance provides Wisconsin with a unique opportunity to utilize a clean and affordable fuel alternative to produce electricity to heat and cool our homes and to help reduce emissions,” said Wisconsin Petroleum Council Executive Director Erin Roth.

The council is part of the American Petroleum Institute, which represents the country’s oil and natural gas industry. The majority of the country’s energy is produced by the group’s 625 members.

According to a blog post from Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, 1 cubic foot of natural gas could fill up a standard basketball, while 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas is about enough to meet the heating needs of an average-sized home for five days. That includes space-heating, water-heating and cooking.

A video from Cabot’s website says that 1 Bcf of natural gas could power 3,600 TVs nonstop for 100 years, provide electricity to 24,315 homes for one year, and fuel a car driving across the country 85,000 times.

See the study:

–By Alex Moe