Cornelius Vanderbilt II was ahead of his time and visiting his Newport summer home (The Breakers) in Rhode Island this weekend I can certainly see why. Walking through room after room of this 70-room mansion display of Gilded Age excess, I felt like I was whisked away back into time. Yet, despite the vast presence of mosaics, valuable elements such as gold, silver, marble, limestone, steel, terra cotta red roof tiles and wrought iron from Europe and Africa, I was more amazed that Mr. Vanderbilt, a railroad mogul, had the foresight to use natural gas as a backup source of electric power in the Great Dining room, including for two large Baccarat crystal chandeliers (see image below). Judging by Energy Information Administration (EIA) data, Mr. Vanderbilt’s idea to use natural gas for electric power is finally catching on and that bodes well for natural gas bulls.
Below are natural gas end use consumption charts (listed as annual and monthly with some of my indications). I thought it was worthwhile to call attention to these statistics since the next release date for March 2013 figures is upcoming on May 31st. I’m particularly interested to key in on the Residential number since there has been a surge in residential natural gas use (likely related to winter heating demand). However, with an increasing amount of homeowners and industrial players opting to include natural gas in their homes for cleaner and more stable electric power needs (especially post Superstorm Sandy), I’m expecting less of a seasonal drop-off in consumption figures than many are expecting. With energy storage solutions advancing and climate change becoming more of a reality, consuming natural gas for transportation is a more credible future phenomenon. After seeing The Breakers mansion, something tells me Mr. Vanderbilt, who passed away at the age of 55 in 1899, may have been an early adopter of that as well.