Did you know that 187 million Americans and 5.5 million American businesses rely on natural gas for energy every single day? And the number is growing.
Every minute, a new residential customer completes the conversion of their home to natural gas.
Every day, 60 new businesses sign up for natural gas services.
Natural gas is a critical part of our country’s energy supply and economy – but how does it get from underground to the homes, factories, office buildings, hotels, and restaurants where customers live and work? Here’s a simple explanation of how natural gas delivery works.
Natural Gas Delivery in 3 Segments
The delivery process can be broken down unto three different entities:
· Production companies explore, drill, and extract natural gas from the earth.
· Transmission companies operate the pipelines and distribution networks that connect gas fields to the regions where natural gas consumers are located.
· Distribution companies, also known as local gas utilities, are charged with the final delivery of energy to the end user.
Natural Gas Can Be Safely Distributed Coast to Coast
The distribution system that delivers natural gas is safe because it’s almost entirely located underground. In total, there are more than 2.5 million miles of pipeline in the system, with a further expansion added to the network each year.
· Transmission pipelines – 300,000 miles
· Local utility distribution – 2,200,000 miles
With transmission pipelines stretching across the country, more than a quarter of all energy consumed in the United States comes from the natural gas moved throughout America’s distribution network. The US’s energy delivery system is so safe and effective, that very few countries around the world have anything like it.
The Importance of Modernizing Natural Gas Infrastructure
While America’s natural gas distribution network is impressive, there is always room for improvement. As natural gas utilities upgrade and modernize infrastructure through enhanced risk-based integrity management programs, we’re seeing significant drops in pipeline emissions. Over the past three decades, pipeline upgrade initiatives have led to a whopping 69% drop in emissions from the system, which reduces waste and protects the environment.
Developing innovative designs and materials for modern pipelines is a group effort, with local gas utilities partnering with governors, legislators, and state regulators across the nation to replace aging pipelines with an enhanced distribution network that’s not only safer but more reliable.
Modernizing America’s natural gas infrastructure is also about expanding reach to new regions and new customers within the regions already served by the natural gas industry, to provide more American homes and businesses with the energy they need to thrive.