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Transitioning Central Appalachia: Understanding Framework Conditions Supporting the Adaptation to New Energy Economies (Graduate Thesis May 2018)

Since 2006, electricity generation from coal-fired power plants has been on the decline, while in the same time-frame electricity generation from natural gas and renewables has been steadily increasing. In fact, in 2016 natural gas surpassed coal as the leading fuel for electricity generation at the utility scale, per the Energy Information Administration. This shift in the energy sector has had significant implications for Central Appalachian counties which have been dependent on the coal industry as a staple of their local economies. This shift represents the bust in a typical boom-and-bust cycle that accompanies natural resource extraction industries, albeit more likely to be lasting. Researcher Jonathan Norris, MSES, conducted his graduate work to understand foundational elements that may support coal-impacted counties to transition their local economies to ones that are more resilient to such volatility and sustainable in the long-run. For a copy of the full report, please contact Elissa Welch at welche@ohio.edu. Click here for a summary of the findings (pdf).

Pipeline Capacity & Shale Gas Pricing in the Appalachian Basin (May 2018)

Ohio University researchers analyzed the impact of exporting natural gas out of Ohio (and surrounding states) via pipeline expansion. Using an economic model to explain the relative price change across Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the researchers’ findings concluded: 1) due to pipeline capacity constraints, the regional price will be lower than the outside price, 2) as exports grow with pipeline capacity, regional consumers get priced out of the market and the local quantity consumed falls, and 3) increased exposure to the export market does not increase total regional production, rather it simply changes the destination of the regionally-produced gas. Click here for a one-page summary (pdf).

Click here to read the full analysis (pdf).

Economic Impact Analysis of Ohio's Shale Industry Cluster (May 2018)

As part of the Shale Innovation Project at Ohio University, this report investigates the economic contribution of Ohio’s shale industry. A multi-industry economic contribution analysis using IMPLAN, an economic impact modeling software, was conducted to determine the impact of six shale-related industry sectors to Ohio. This research also uncovered other, ancillary industries that were affected by shale activity, as well as state and local tax impacts.  Finally, county-by-county models were created highlighting both the real and per capita economic impacts. Results showed, in part:

  • Ohio’s shale industry contributed $22.34 billion to the state’s economy in 2015.
  • Full and part-time employment in Ohio’s shale industry was 147,126, with $7.33 billion in wages and benefits.
  • For every job created in Ohio’s shale industry, an additional 0.71 jobs are created in the state.

Click here to read the full analysis (pdf).

Shale Investment List Analysis (April 2018)

OHIO researchers analyzed a dataset of planned infrastructure projects related to the state’s shale industry aggregated by a local law firm for two reasons: 1) to better understand the trends in shale investment in Ohio, and 2) to analyze and quantify midstream development opportunities within the Marcellus and Utica shale plays. Click here to read the summary results (pdf).

Mitigating Air Emissions from Oil  and Gas Production through Better Regulation and BMPs (April 2018)

Because of regulatory uncertainty in the oil and gas industry, voluntary best management practices (BMPs) have become more widely created, promoted and implemented to foster economically- and environmentally-palatable outcomes. This white paper is part of a larger body of work in which researchers at Ohio University are examining voluntary BMPs that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas production sites across the Northern Appalachian Basin. This work is made possible by Bureau of Land Management-Ohio University cooperative agreement L16AC00190. Click here to read the white paper.

Case Study: Australian Coal Bed Methane vs. United States Shale Gas – A Comparison of Management (February 2018)

Both the United States and Australia have experienced increases in unconventional energy production in recent years. For the U.S., technological advancements and favorable economic conditions have led to increases in natural gas production from shale gas reserves, and in Australia production of coal-bed methane (CBM) has increased, due in part to a reduction in conventional gas reserves. From decades of economic development research, it is known that the volatility of natural resource extraction industries presents challenges for regions hosting oil and gas industry activity. Recent scholarship suggests that localities which establish strong institutions for managing these impacts may be likely to fare better in the long-run. Thus, understanding how Australia has managed CBM production with respect to local impacts may provide key lessons for policymakers in U.S. regions hosting shale gas production. Click here to read the white paper.

The State of the Energy Industry in Ohio: Job Trends and Projections (October 2017)

The energy industry in Ohio provides a unique landscape for a case study, particularly considering the decline of the coal economy in the southeastern part of the state, the boom and bust nature of its shale industry, and rise of renewable energy generation. This research investigates these energy industry trends and changes, including the increase in natural gas production, the renewable portfolio standard freeze, and others. Specifically focused on the coal, oil & gas, wind, and solar industries, this work examines the current status of energy-related jobs in the state juxtaposed with baseline and future scenario projections covering a six-year period. We find that Ohio’s oil & gas and solar industry employment have been increasing at steady rates in recent years, while coal and wind employment have been decreasing. Click here to read the white paper.

Managing the Boom-and-Bust: What Can Shale Communities Learn from Coal Booms and Busts in Central Appalachia? (September 2017)

Natural resource extraction (e.g., oil, gas, coal, etc.) follows boom-and-bust cycles: initial periods of increased industry activity and economic growth followed by slowed-down industry and economic activity. These cycles may impact multiple facets of a community, including infrastructure, revenue streams, workforce needs, and more. One challenge of managing natural resource boom-and-bust cycles is converting initial fiscal windfalls from boom periods into long-term, sustainable economic growth. This paper explores options for communities to plan for that transition; given the volatility of natural resource extraction, saving revenue from oil and gas industry activity for future investment may be a prudent policy option for Ohio and other states in the Marcellus and Utica shale play. Click here to read the white paper.

Governing Public Infrastructure in Ohio's Shale Play: Impacts and Management (April 2017)

Recent increases in oil and gas drilling and production in Ohio have had significant impacts on public infrastructure in the eastern part of the state. The purpose of this paper is to present findings from interviews with seven public-office officials in Ohio’s top oil and gas producing counties. Interviewees were asked to discuss both the impacts that their counties experienced with respect to oil and gas industry activity, as well as the strategies they employed to manage these impacts. The increase in shale industry activity presents a window of opportunity for the region if managed strategically. If not managed properly, however, this opportunity may prove to be only another fleeting boom and bust. Click here to read the white paper.

Beyond Shale: Building Resilience in Ohio's Workforce (December 2016)

Since 2012, Ohio has experienced a significant boom in production in its oil and gas industry. Due to advancements in oil and gas drilling technology, the previously difficult-to-explore Marcellus and Utica shale plays are now being exploited throughout eastern Ohio. Despite a fairly recent boom, however, the industry experienced an even more recent downturn when crude oil prices started declining in July 2014 due to various forces, including an overproduction-induced glut in the market. This downturn has raised questions about the economic sustainability of the oil and gas industry in Ohio. Is this classic boom-and-bust scenario unavoidable, or can innovative policy measures build resilience in the industry, and thus reliable opportunities for the local workforce? This white paper explores the current state of workforce development in Ohio related to oil and gas and proposes that by leveraging current workforce programs, the region has a chance to build a workforce skilled in both industry-specific and non-oil and -gas reliant occupations. Click here to read the white paper.

Baseline Environmental Data Collection at Ohio University Eastern Campus and Dysart Woods in Belmont County, Ohio (May 2016)

The trend in energy production to natural gas and away from legacy fuels like coal is part of a wholesale shift in America’s energy production that has rippling effects globally and locally in Appalachia. Shale gas development is a fast-growing industry within the region’s Marcellus and Utica shale formations, which also encompass Ohio University properties in Belmont County. In order to quantify environmental and economic impacts of shale gas exploration and production, baseline environmental conditions were documented by researchers with Ohio University’s Consortium for Energy, Economics & the Environment (CE3).  This report, funded by the Ohio University Board of Trustees, assessed the baseline water quality, air quality and ecological conditions in and around Ohio University’s Eastern Campus and the Dysart Woods National Landmark. These baseline assessments provide a snapshot in time against which future assessments can be measured. Click here to read the white paper.

Establishing an Appalachian Regional Energy Cluster (Feb 2016)

A cluster is a regional concentration of related industries in a particular location. Clusters are a striking feature of economies, making regions uniquely competitive for jobs and private investment. They consist of companies, suppliers, and service providers, as well as government agencies and other institutions that provide specialized training and education, information, research, and technical support.  This white paper provides an overview of business (industry) clusters and discusses why the establishment of an Appalachian Regional Energy Cluster is considered to be a prerequisite for enhancing the viability of locating an Integrated Energy System (IES) at the U.S. Department of Energy PORTS site near Piketon, Ohio. For more information about the work the Voinovich School and CE3 are conducting related to potential future uses of the PORTS site, visit: www.portsfuture.com. Click here to read the white paper.

About the author:  Dr. Benjamin J. Cross is an Executive in Residence at the Voinovich School and has been involved in a broad range of energy-related work activities for the past three decades. He is the founder of NuSynergy Energy, LLC, and previously worked with the DOE Savannah River Site and as a senior advisor for the Clean Energy Directorate at the Savannah River National Laboratory. Additionally, Dr. Cross has provided strategic and technical support to DOE-Portsmouth Site’s repurposing efforts and to the Federal Southeast Regional Group for Energy Security/Sustainability.

Energy Sector Opportunities for the PORTS Campus (Dec 2014)

The U.S. Department of Energy former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PORTS) near Piketon, Ohio has been an important regional economic player for decades. Through a grant from the US DOE Office of Environmental Management Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office, the Voinovich School’s contributions to PORTS site repurposing efforts build upon findings from the School’s PORTSfuture public outreach task completed in 2011. Based upon community preferences, site repurposing activities are focusing on integrating the results of the public preference voting with the overall plan for the future of the site. The Voinovich School is part of a collaborative team engaged in a data-driven process to identify viable industries to target for site reuse and identify marketing tools aimed at potential future users at PORTS. Energy sector opportunities for regional economic development are explored in a white paper authored by Michael Zimmer, Energy Executive-in-Residence. Click here to read the white paper.

The Geopolitical Implications of U.S. Shale as a Global Resource (Oct 2013)

The past decade has seen substantial change in the U.S. natural gas and oil industry. Since 2000, rapid growth in the production of natural gas, oil and liquids from shale formations in North America has dramatically altered the national and global energy market landscape. Shale energy is providing national economic and security benefits as the U.S. has raced to become the second largest global energy supplier, with the U.S. is expected to emerge as the largest producer of oil and gas this year surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia. Shale gas will continue to magnify the importance of geography in the U.S. and global markets and relationships. Click here to read the white paper.

Checking In on the Future of Wind Energy (Mar 2013)

Wind energy in the U.S. represents an energy, economic and environmental miracle of development over the past decade. In the face of an entrenched national framework to preserve a dominant fossil energy industry, total wind energy capacity continues to grow. Yet these shifts in the way that energy and power demand is planned for and regulated must also consider the cost competitiveness of renewables when compared to the full externalities of fossil fuels. A more sustained—stable yet dynamic—public policy framework that focuses on incentives, rules and efficient access to capital in the coming decade will create an environment for wind and other forms of renewable energy to succeed. Click here to read the white paper.

Energy Efficiency in Ohio: The Deal of the Century (Feb 2013)

Energy efficiency must play a bigger role in the near future to mitigate the tens of trillions of dollars that will be required to 1) reduce CO2 and other air emissions; 2) build new generation to meet skyrocketing demand; and, 3) minimize other air and water resource challenges while at the same time addressing quality of life, economic growth and public health. Energy efficiency provides electricity and service at a lesser cost, and is more timely, more responsive and more reliable. Every company and household can and should participate in energy efficiency initiatives in Ohio to help their own bottom line and the State's energy future. Click here to read the white paper.