The year in energy was transformative, to say the least

December 19, 2013

We’ve reached that point of the year when it’s time to look back and to take a look forward.

With energy, both views are imperative, especially when considering how quickly the major forms have transformed our economy in the past and present, but have continued to undergo major transformations themselves.

Our cover story looks at what transpired among the region’s “Big 3” energy segments, natural gas, coal and nuclear, over the past year. But as the old saying goes, the past is prelude to the future.”

In natural gas, the Marcellus continued to earn its title as “The Mighty Marcellus,” as government reports found that the shale strata is now supplying nearly 18 percent of all natural gas in the U.S.

But as Paul Smith of America’s Natural Gas Alliance tells The Energy Report, the climbing production figures coming out of the Marcellus call for completion of infrastructure projects that can find new markets for the abundant output.

In coal, 160-year-old Consol Energy, one of the country’s oldest coal producers, made a bigger turn toward its natural gas assets with the sale of five of its mines to Murray Energy.

Nuclear energy giant Westinghouse Electric was beginning to regain traction in the post-Fukushima era with a rollout of a safer version of its workhorse reactor amidst the backdrop of news that some longtime anti-nuclear activists are now seeing the necessity for nuclear energy to play a bigger part in the country’s energy generation portfolio going forward.

Columnist Jeff Kotula reminds us that the 10th anniversary of the first horizontally drilled Marcellus well arrives in the new year, an event that ultimately helped to make Washington County an energy center.

But with the energy industry in constant motion, it will quickly carry us into a new year with new discoveries and challenges.

As with all things, nothing ever really stands still, even with light bulbs, as our feature on the fading of the incandescent light bulb notes.

However, some transformations aren’t yet visible. While the country is blessed with a host of energy options that are quickly propelling us toward energy independence, we enter yet another year without a national energy policy.

Speaking of the inventory of valuable assets that exist in our region, columnist J.R. Shaw enumerates them for our highly successful tourism industry, which expects to see new additions in the months and years ahead.

All in all, the year’s end is a reminder that we have much to be thankful for, and as the new year approaches, much more to be hopeful for.

Best wishes for happy holidays and a prosperous new year!



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