Nationwide, petroleum represents about 38 percent of total energy use, followed by natural gas at about 23 percent and coal with about 18 percent. In Hawaii and the other islands, energy almost exclusively comes from petroleum, mainly because oil is easier to transport than other energy sources.
Because of the dependence on oil, residential electricity prices on the islands average three to five times more than in the rest of the country.
But with domestic natural gas production booming and companies building liquified natural gas export terminals, the islands may soon have more options.
Puerto Rico already has added an LNG terminal next door to a petroleum-fired power plant that has been converted to run on natural gas.
Hawaii utilities also are experimenting with LNG, receiving the first shipment in April. The state has used natural gas for a while, but until this year the fuel was synthetic gas made in one of Hawaii’s two crude oil refineries.
Besides the increased use of natural gas, Hawaii and the other islands also increasingly are investing in solar power.
The country’s energy diversification and increased adoption of natural gas promise both financial and environmental benefits to consumers.
The trend also could be a boon to Oklahoma, which is one of the top natural gas-producing states, accounting for 8.4 percent of the country’s marketed natural gas production in 2013.