Natural gas comes from deep within the earth. But how did it get there?

  • You already know that dinosaurs roamed the earth millions of years ago.
  • When the dinosaurs and the plants they ate died, the remains were buried under many layers of rock and soil.
  • Over time, the tremendous heat and pressure created by the layers of earth turned the animal and plant matter into natural gas and petroleum (oil). We call natural gas a "fossil fuel" because it was created by prehistoric animals and plants, just like fossils.
  • Just like electricity, natural gas has to travel a long way to get to your home. The gas that heats your home or cooks your food might have come from thousands of miles away!
two technicians working on a gas line

How natural gas gets to your house:

  1. Natural gas is trapped in layers of rock with tiny holes hundreds or even thousands of feet beneath the ground. The rock holds the gas like a sponge.
  2. To bring it to the surface, natural gas companies drill into the earth. They use big wells and pumps to bring the gas to the surface.
  3. The gas is sent to your town through gas mains (giant pipes) buried underground.
  4. Utility companies (like Alliant Energy) bring it to your house in smaller pipes.
  5. Those pipes connect to the meter outside your house, which measures how much natural gas your family uses.
  6. More pipes connect the meter to the gas appliances you use at home, like the furnace, water heater, clothes dryer or stove.
Icons demonstrating steps 1-4.