Clean Cheap Heat: The Development of Residential Markets for Natural Gas in the United States

Clean Cheap Heat: The Development of Residential Markets for Natural Gas in the United States

Clean Cheap Heat: The Development of Residential Markets for Natural Gas in the United States

Clean Cheap Heat: The Development of Residential Markets for Natural Gas in the United States

Synopsis

This work traces the development of residential natural gas markets in the United States from the beginning of the 20th century to the present. It examines how social, economic, and technological factors interrelated to bring a relatively new energy source from obscurity to general acceptance by the population. The author credits the appearance of particular appliances which helped spawn natural gas use, notes legislative developments such as the Natural Gas Act of 1938 and the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978, and shows the various effects of regulation and price changes on the market.

Excerpt

During the 1970's and 1980's I read many analyses of natural gas markets in which comments were made about the historical development of residential gas markets. In many instances, an examination of primary data and other evidence revealed that the author of the statements had been misled. Eventually, I realized that a comprehensive analysis of historical data on this market was needed.

In my examination of evidence during leaves of absence from work I was surprised to find how dramatically gas appliances had changed economic and social conditions of many households; how differently industry and government representatives had interacted in forming the market depending on the time period; how quickly the market developed in some places and periods and how slowly in others; and finally, how fragile available estimates of the effect of price on residential natural gas use were. These estimates were of particular interest because they had influenced investments of firms and government regulations and, thus, they had influenced the development of the market and the economic welfare of consumers.

The writing of this book was inspired by support from many quarters. Most of all I would like to thank my father and mother who gave me a deep appreciation for the importance of history, and my son, John, who seems to have a very natural love of history. But inspiration is one thing, work is another.

I would like to acknowledge and thank M. Elizabeth Sanders of the Now School for Social Research; Harry Trebing of Michigan State University and Director of the Institute of Public Utilities; Mark Rose of Michigan Technological University; Noel Uri of the United States Department of Agriculture; Erik Kreil of the United States Department of Energy; and Phil Kott of the Bureau of the Census. I am grateful for their helpful comments on early drafts of chapters and for their encouragement to continue. I would also like to thank Lucia Di Venere, Jill Lady, and Ellen Herbert for editorial and other support. Nonetheless, the views and any remaining errors are solely those of the author.

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