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Fuel for Thought: Some Questions on the Future of Gas-Fired Generation

Fortnightly Magazine - December 1999

because of economic, technical and operational barriers?

* Technology Options. Will straight gas LDCs be able to keep residential and commercial customers without advanced technologies that keep direct gas use competitive with electric options or allow LDCs to provide complete on-site, gas-fueled energy services in competition with grid power?

* LDC as a Business. Or will the issue of the future of straight gas LDCs become irrelevant, as convergence of the electric power and gas supply businesses each proceeds unabatedly, with usual dominance of the electric side in the merged entities?

* Price Stability. Can a 5 Tcf to 10 Tcf per year increase in U.S. gas consumption over the consensus projection of 31 Tcf by year 2015 for various forms of power generation be accommodated without a substantial increase in gas prices?

* Turbine Turnout. Can the equipment manufacturers satisfy in a timely fashion and at relatively stable prices what promises to be a global explosion in demand for combined-cycle and simple combustion turbine systems, or will that prove a major growth limitation in DG and modular generation capacity?

Henry R. Linden is the Max McGraw Professor of Energy and Power Engineering and Management and director of the Energy + Power Center at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. He is the retired founding president of the Gas Research Institute and a past president of the Institute of Gas Technology. In addition, Linden has served on the boards of such companies as the AES Corp., Sonat Inc. and UGI Corp., and has published extensively. He may be reached at

1 Linden, Henry R., "Drivers of the Electric-Gas Convergence," The Electricity Journal, Vol. 10, No. 4, May 1997, pp. 14-25 (Linden, "Drivers of Electric-Gas Convergence").

2 Linden, Henry R., "A New Look at the Future of Gas," Public Utilities Fortnightly, Vol. 83, No. 12, June 5, 1969, pp. 13-20.

3 Linden, Henry R., "The Case for Increasing Use of Natural Gas in Generation," Public Utilities Fortnightly, Vol. 121, No. 4, Feb. 18, 1988, pp. 25-29.

4 Linden, Henry R., "Energy Policy and the Gas Option," The Bridge, Vol. 9, No. 4, Winter 1979-1980, pp. 25-29.

5 "Annual Energy Outlook 1999," Energy Information Administration, Document No. DOE/EIA 0383(99), December 1998 ("Annual Energy Outlook 1999," EIA).

6 "GRI Baseline Projection of U.S. Energy Supply and Demand, 1999 Edition," Gas Research Institute, Baseline/Gas Resource Analytical Center, August 1998 ("GRI Baseline Projection of U.S. Energy Supply and Demand," GRI).

7 "Monthly Energy Review," Energy Information Administration, Document No. DOE/EIA 0035(99/09), September 1999 ("Monthly Energy Review," EIA).

8 "U.S. Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and Natural Gas Liquids Reserves, 1997 Annual Report," Energy Information Administration, Office of Oil and Gas, Document No. DOE/EIA-0216(97), December 1998 ("U.S. Crude Oil," EIA).

9 "Monthly Energy Review," EIA.

10 "U.S. Crude Oil," EIA.

11 "Annual Energy Outlook 1999," EIA.

12 Linden, "Drivers of Electric-Gas Convergence."

13 "Annual Energy Outlook 1999," EIA.

14 Ibid.

15 Ibid.

16 Ibid.

17 "GRI Baseline Projection of U.S. Energy Supply and Demand," GRI.

18 "Annual Energy Outlook 1999," EIA.

19 Linden, "Drivers of Electric-Gas Convergence."