Gas Utilities

Natural gas is an efficient, environmentally-friendly, and affordable way to provide heat to your home and business. Heating with natural gas from gas utilities can cost two to three times less than heating with electricity or propane. No wonder 30% of the energy used in the United States is now natural gas!

Natural gas forms deep in the earth and is extracted by the drilling of wells. When organic material is exposed to millions of years of heat and pressure, natural gas forms. While natural gas is technically a fossil fuel, like the coal and petroleum it often forms near, it burns more cleanly. Per kilowatt-hour, natural gas puts just half the carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than coal does.

While natural gas has been known to man since at least 1,000 B.C., when the ancient Greek Oracle at Delphi was established near a spontaneous natural gas flame on Mount Parnassus, practical uses for natural gas are more modern discoveries.

William Hart, of Fredonia, NY, dug the first natural gas-specific well in 1821. While his Fredonia Gas Light Company distributed natural gas to local homes, the gas was used not for heating, but indoor lighting. Robert Bunsen’s 1885 invention of the Bunsen burner mixed natural gas with oxygen in the right proportions, allowing for natural gas to be safely burned for heat as well as light, but without pipeline infrastructure, natural gas and gas utilities was still of limited use. The majority of the United States’ natural gas pipeline was laid between 1920 and 1960, and natural gas boomed in popularity and production.

Natural gas is processed to remove impurities near the well where it is extracted. The resulting “dry gas” is sold to pipelines, which carry the gas through more than 308,000 miles of pipeline to local distribution companies. Much of this pipeline connects the American Southwest to the rest of the country. 47% of the United States’ natural gas originates in this region. When natural gas arrives at its destination, it is sold to one of 1,200 local distribution or 900 local utility companies.

Gas Utilties – Public Utilties

gas utilitiesUtility companies distribute natural gas via underground gas mains. Residences and businesses must be connected to these gas mains before they can begin using natural gas for their heating needs. Natural-gas burning equipment can be installed new, but oil and propane boilers and furnaces can easily be retrofitted to burn natural gas, as well. A qualified plumbing or HVAC contractor can perform this conversion and the necessary combustion tests required to safely set up your new natural gas connection.

While natural gas is not available everywhere as a gas utilities service, more pipeline is always being laid, carrying natural gas to new markets. With the advent of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquified natural gas (LNG) technologies, natural gas can now be carried via marine and land transport to markets that would otherwise not benefit from this clean, affordable fuel.


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