Many of the experts are predicting instability in energy prices over the next few years. Driving factors include issues related to emissions, deregulation, clean vs. not so clean fuels, and an ever increasing demand for energy.

For most plants, energy costs including electricity, gas, oil, and other energy sources rank in the top five expenditures.

A good index to compare energy costs is one million BTU's (MBTU). All of the following are equal to one MBTU-

1 MCF of natural gas
1,000 cubic feet of natural gas
1 decatherm of natural gas
10 therms of natural gas
293.1 KW of electricity
7.29 gallons of # 2 oil
46.35 lbs of propane
1,000 lbs of steam
29.31 boiler horsepower

To arrive at a valid cost comparison, we have to account for the efficiency of the types of energy under consideration. As an example, lets compare heating a tank requiring 1,000,000 BTU's of energy using either steam from a gas fired boiler or direct electric heaters in the tank. Gas cost is $ 10.00 per mcf and electric costs are $.10 per kW. Boiler efficiency is 80% and the electric heaters are 98% efficient.

Using steam (i.e. gas), delivered costs are $ 10.00 divided by .80 for $ 12.50 per MBTU. For electricity, $ .10 times 293.1 conversion factor divided by .98 equals $ 29.91 per MBTU delivered to the tank. Capital costs for equipment, maintenance, and operations should also be considered to arrive at a complete set of figures. Call for assistance in reviewing your equipment options in your process.