U.S. natural gas prices encouraging

Natural gas

More electricity producers in the United States are turning to natural gas as an energy source, thanks to the nation's boom in shale exploration. The Wall Street Journal said companies are encouraged to take advantage of the cheap prices of natural gas, which fell 31 percent in 2012 to $2.77 a million British Thermal Units compared to $4.02 in 2011.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), gas produced about 30 percent of electricity in the United States throughout a 12-month period ending in September. Coal comprised about 37 percent. While coal still remained dominant, 2012 numbers are down from the 50 percent of electricity coal produced 10 years ago, the WSJ reported.

The falling prices of natural gas is making the United States more globally competitive, CBS reported. The source said it is helping domestic steel, aluminum and glass producers cut costs and encouraging foreign companies to set up operations in the United States.

The EIA expects natural gas prices to remain low in future years, with utilities paying less than $5 per million BTUs for gas until 2020, the WSJ reported. Prices are not expected to spike to 2008 levels, when they reached $9.15 a million BTUs, until at least 2040.

PennEnergy's research area offers details on using natural gas for electricity generation.

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