Defining the new normal

It’s a familiar swood-pile-2048ite around New Hampshire:  A few cords of wood, neatly stacked beside the garage of a house with a  bright metal stove-pipe.  Every August or so, homeowners who heat with wood plan for the winter ahead.  Three cords enough?  Better order four and play it safe.  But what if your wood guy told you he could only sell you two cords?  Or, worse yet, he was out of the business?  You scramble to find a new supplier.  You consider another way to heat your house.  The cold sets in a little early and you’re buying over-priced bundles from the hardware store to get by.  Winter suddenly seems longer, and more expensive, than usual.

This is roughly what happened to New England’s electricity grid this winter and it’s likely the new normal.  Limited access to a constrained supply of natural gas meant home heating needs were given priority over those of power plants that use gas to make electricity.  This shift drove rates up – first on the wholesale, then on the retail market.

The need for new and diverse sources of energy is immediate.  Yet, we continue to see a struggle to find consensus on new energy development.  Universally, interest in renewable energy is growing; though investment in the U.S. is sluggish because of uncertainty over the subsidies many such projects need to go forward.  But there is hope even in this power quagmire.

EIA hydropower graphRenewables already play a significant role in supporting the grid, providing more energy than coal on a typical day.  According to the EIA, the US is second in the world in renewable energy generation and hydropower is the back bone of that.  ISO-New England, the independent grid operator for our region, runs a downloadable app where you can see what fuels are generating your electricity in any given hour.  This gives you a clear picture of how reliant the region is on natural gas during calm conditions and how much of our energy already comes from renewables.  Imagine if we were to add 1,200 megawatts more hydropower, one of the cleanest sources of energy, to the mix?

Just to our east, the Maine Power Reliability Program is entering its final stages and proving the power of large-scale transmission projects.  This 450-mile long transmission system will improve Maine’s grid reliability and carry wind power from the north.  The $1.4 billion project has employed an estimated 2,000 people and spurred millions in economic development in the region during construction.

With the impending closure of several large-scale power plants in the region, industry experts predict energy shortages for the next several winters.  We at Northern Pass believe adding different sources of energy to the New England power grid, like clean hydropower, can help prevent scenarios like this from happening year after year and bring many added benefits to New Hampshire and the rest of the region.

(The following articles are referenced in the above communication)

The UK and U.S. Northeast Face a Pending Energy Shortage
(Institute for Energy Research)

Concern grows over Hollis portion of proposed gas pipeline
(New Hampshire Union Leader)

LePage vetoes solar energy bill, two others
(Bangor Daily News)

Clean energy: Is a boom coming in 2014?
(Christian Science Monitor)

U.S. wind industry slammed by tax uncertainty, fracking
(USA Today)

When it’s calm, renewables make more of our electricity than coal
(Nashua Telegraph)

How much U.S. electricity is generated from renewable energy?
(EIA.gov)

What is the Greenest Source of Electricity?
(The Energy Collective)

Maine power upgrade: CMP closing in on finish of 5-year project
(Portsmouth Herald)

Electric grid battles power plant closures
(Hartford Business Journal)

Who has the highest share of renewable energy?
(Christian Science Monitor)

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Solving Energy Challenges

Expanding clean energy. Making our power grid more reliable. We’ve seen numerous proposals come forward aimed at achieving these goals and addressing the region’s energy crisis. A look at headlines from last week, however, reveals that making these proposals a reality is not easy.

Two proposals now being considered would “socialize” energy infrastructure costs across New England by adding a surcharge onto everyone’s monthly electric bills. One proposal, which has the support of all six New England governors, would use the surcharge to fund new transmission lines connecting to renewable energy projects and new natural gas pipelines. The second proposal, which is now before the Massachusetts legislature, would require that state utilities buy a certain amount of renewable energy, including Canadian hydropower. To help make this happen, electric customers would pay part of the cost of bringing that power to the area.

winter average temps

Several extended periods of frigid weather tested New England’s infrastructure, putting high demand on natural gas for heat and power generation, leading to volatility in the electricity markets. Souce: ISO-New England

New Hampshire and New England are in an energy crisis.  This past winter exposed our vulnerability to how we get our electricity, relying heavily on natural gas to generate our power while lacking the ability to bring enough gas into the region.  The Independent System Operator that manages New England’s grid has warned about future struggles to keep the lights on, especially as aging power plants retire in the coming months and years.

New England has been trying to fix the problem by building new energy projects, but at the same time, there is opposition to every kind of proposal. Controversy surrounds wind projects in New Hampshire and the Cape Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts. The outcry over a proposed natural gas pipeline in Southern New England is growing, as well. Compromise on these projects is proving hard to achieve.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to reach the common goal shared by a majority of New Hampshire residents:  finding new sources of renewable energy.  This was indicated in a recent independent survey. We are confident that a compromise is achievable in New Hampshire and that it can include Northern Pass.

(The links below are referenced in this communication)

LNG official says no need to build pipeline
(New Hampshire Union Leader)

New England power generators oppose Mass. proposed clean energy mandates
(eenews.net)

Regional power play begins to take shape
(CommonWealth Magazine)

Has a power crisis arrived in New Hampshire?
(New Hampshire Business Review)

Letter to ISO-New England
(House Committee on Energy and Commerce)

Federal regulators aim to fix power markets by next winter
(eenews.net)

Solar, wind producers fight for piece of state’s clean-energy plans
(The Salem News)

Legislator calls for closing of Groton wind farm
(New Hampshire Union Leader)

Alexandria support for wind farm not strong, officials say
(New Hampshire Union Leader)

Concerns Raised Over Proposed Natural Gas Pipeline
(WAMC – Northeast Public Radio)

Natural gas line extension through Hollis has some people upset
(Nashua Telegraph)

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It’s no joke – winter’s eye popping costs add up

“New England businesses and residents have almost spent as much money on power this winter than they did in all of 2012 combined.” – Hartford Business Journal 4/1/14

Energy prices exploded this winter and utility customers in New Hampshire and across the region are just beginning to feel the aftershocks in their monthly bills.  As the Hartford Business Journal reported this week, “the cost of electricity was $5.1 billion in New England from December to February…  By comparison, in 2012, the cost of electricity for all 12 months was $5.2 billion.”  The winter wholesale price of gas increased four-fold over 2011/2012.

winter gas prices

Source: ISO-New England. This chart shows the average December-February wholesale price of natural gas in New England. Natural gas spot prices hit a new all-time high in January, and the average price in February reached its second highest monthly level since 2003.

The regional grid operator, ISO-New England, attributes these sharp increases to the combination of “low temperatures, high demand for natural gas and constraints on natural gas pipelines.”  Because natural gas runs so much of New England’s power generation, the price of that fuel is closely tied to the price of electricity.  The lawmakers are probing into the price spikes.

The lights stayed on this winter largely because of the ISO’s “Winter Reliability Program.”  Power plants that could burn oil (some of which hadn’t done so in a while) stocked up on fuel inventory and were able to run on oil when natural gas was either unavailable or too expensive.  Over the course of the winter, these power plants had burned through most of the 3 million stockpiled barrels.  Some generators, at one point, only had two days’ worth of oil left.

And even though this winter was tough to get through, ISO-NE told federal regulators this week that “unless the weather is mild, next winter will be more challenging…”  This is because the Vermont Yankee and Salem Harbor power plants will be retired by then, with several more at risk of closing by 2020.

What can be done?  ISO-NE is looking at a number of approaches including another Winter Reliability Program, market adjustments, and innovations in renewable energy.  The six New England governors are trying to prompt the publically-funded development of new natural gas pipeline and transmission to connect the region with large-scale renewable sources.  Developers are jumping in with proposals to build new projects that would rely on these customer subsidies.  Smaller-scale renewable producers, meanwhile, are worried they’ll get lost in the shuffle.

Like we’ve been saying all winter – we need many solutions to bring stability and security to our energy market.  This includes new natural gas pipeline and new sources of renewable energy that can ease the strain on the system and markets.  But who will and should pay for these projects?  Northern Pass, as proposed, is the only project in New England with a federally-approved funding agreement that does not rely on customer subsidy and would bring the benefits of jobs and tax revenue to New Hampshire communities.

(Below are the links referenced in this communication)

Winter’s energy costs exceed $5B
(Hartford Business Journal)

Monthly wholesale electricity prices and demand in New England
(ISOnewswire.com)

More calls made to learn about past winter’s energy price spike
(New Hampshire Union Leader)

Cold Weather Operations
(ISO New-England presentation to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission)

Vermont board OKs plans to close down Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant by end of year
(masslive.com)

ISO-NE and NEPOOL submit proposal to establish sloped demand curve for future Forward Capacity Market auctions
(ISOnewswire.com)

New wind power forecast integrated into ISO-NE processes and control room operations 
(ISOnewswire.com)

Massachusetts company proposes Plattsburgh-Burlington electricity transmission line
(VTdigger.org)

Solar, wind producers fight for piece of state’s clean energy plans
(Eagle Tribune)

Massachusetts not at end of wind energy pipeline
(CommonWealth Magazine)

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The Numbers Are In: Support for Northern Pass Growing

Support for Northern Pass continues to grow! An independent issues survey released earlier this week finds the strongest support yet for the project, with 46 percent of New Hampshire residents supporting the project and just 35 percent opposing it. The results are in line with what we have been hearing through our outreach efforts in recent months, and offer further proof that – the more people learn about Northern Pass, the more likely they are to support it.

Reading into the data gives a clearer picture of what kind of energy future New Hampshire residents want and how they want to get there. For instance:

  • Only 28 percent of those polled favor burying the Northern Pass given the dramatically higher costs of underground technology, and only 19 percent are willing to pay for the increased costs through a ratepayer charge.
  • 64 percent of residents polled support the idea that New Hampshire should diversify its energy portfolio by adding sources other than natural gas.
  • Just 31 percent of New Hampshire residents back a new natural gas pipeline and only 23 percent are willing to pay for the construction of a new pipeline.

These results will no doubt prompt policy makers to reconsider some of the popular misconceptions surrounding energy projects, and the actual concerns expressed by the public.

Nashua_Poll_Graph_JournalPost

This chart, taken from the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce 2014 Public Opinion Survey, shows growing support and declining opposition to Northern Pass.  Source: Greater Nashua Chamber

New England’s governors have called for the construction of both new natural gas pipeline and transmission lines, and they envision utility customers paying for these projects.  The potential for public funding for the construction of energy projects is now, as one Vermont official predicted, drawing developers “out of the woodwork” with costly proposals designed to help New England meet its energy goals. It is clear these projects are needed, yet it’s also evident that the public has concerns about picking up the tab.

And here is where Northern Pass is different.  As proposed, Northern Pass is a “merchant” or “participant-funded” project.  This means that, under the current plan, customers won’t pay for the construction of the line. The cost of building long-distance underground transmission lines (five to ten times higher than overhead construction) has the potential to make a participant-funded projects uneconomic. This is one of the reasons why just 0.5 percent of all transmission lines in the country are underground. 

New Hampshire residents have spoken. They want to add new sources of clean, renewable energy to the grid, and in a cost-efficient manner. Northern Pass will not only connect our grid to a major source of hydropower, it can also plug New Hampshire into its energy future.

Links:

All six New England governors commit to joint energy infrastructure agenda – Bangor Daily News

New England States Committee on Electricity Letter to ISO New England – Request for help in developing “tariff filings related to electric and natural gas infrastructure in New England.”

New England States Debate Sharing Costs For New Power Lines – Vermont Public Radio

Companies want to build multimillion-dollar power lines through Maine – Portland Press Herald

Out of Sight, Out of Mind 2012 - Edison Electric Institute

Power outages often spur questions around burying power lines – US Energy Information Administration

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When higher energy costs hit home

You check the mailbox: a few advertisements, some ‘too good to be true’ offers, and bills.  There’s your mortgage, your car payment, your electricity bill and maybe your home heating bill.  Which ones have been causing you to wince lately when you open them?  Chances are the last two.

What you may not realize when you slide your finger under the envelope flap is the relationship between the numbers in those bills and a significant debate that is taking place on our energy future.  How things like pipelines and transmission lines, fossil fuels and renewable resources, trickle down over time to the line that reads “amount due.”

Energy analysts and policy makers have been talking all winter about constrained natural gas pipelines, over-dependence on natural gas and the region’s high energy prices. We saw this week the affect these issues have on the people who live and work in New England.

New England now pays the highest average spot price for natural gas in the country, despite the region’s proximity to the Marcellus Shale natural gas fields. The higher cost of natural gas is increasing the cost of electricity, moving wholesale prices up 55 percent higher in 2013 than they were the year before. Natural gas prices are also contributing to higher home heating costs in New England. The average home heating bill increased $300 this winter, to about $1,700. Businesses say these added costs are putting a drag on the economy.

ISO-NE President and CEO Gordon van Welie, speaking recently in Washington, D.C., said the region will be in a “precarious operating position” in the next three to four years, and that the energy problems New England faced this winter will only get worse next winter because more power plants are retiring this year.

It’s clear that adding more energy from a variety of sources to the regional grid will lower costs and ensure reliability. All six New England governors have acknowledged the importance of Canadian hydropower in a well-rounded energy mix, as did the Boston Sunday Globe last weekend when it endorsed Massachusetts legislation that would encourage the importation of more hydropower into our regional power grid. Northern Pass is already years ahead of whatever new proposals might now emerge, with a secured route and a federally-approved funding plan.  It’s a project well positioned to help the region address these energy challenges.

Report: Natural gas price hikes pushed electric rates higher in 2013
New Hampshire Union Leader

Mass. must welcome hydropower even as it promotes wind, solar
Boston Sunday Globe

On energy, we can’t simply keep saying “no”
Concord Monitor

Years after they were proposed, R.I., Mass., wind projects yet to start spinning
Providence Journal

Higher cost of keeping warm a drag on the economy
Boston Globe

New England’s wholesale electric prices soared by 55 percent last year
Boston Business Journal

State to distribute $20 million in heating aid
Boston Globe

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Energy Growing Pains

Whether it was in a NH Senate Committee room in Concord, or in a town hall in the North Country, last week saw elected officials and local citizens taking on big energy issues.

NH Senate pauses on power line bill

3 NH towns vote for local control over wind farm projects

Senate passes standards for wind turbine siting

Some votes favored more regulation and government control over siting proposed energy projects, while other votes indicated work still needs to be done to craft policies that address the region’s energy needs. These mixed votes show us that policy makers and average citizens alike remain divided on the best energy policies for our state.

While the debate continues, stories about New England’s aging energy infrastructure continue to pop up as well.

Pilgrim’s owner pushes for market changes to help keep the nuclear plant open

Polar Vortex emboldens industry to push old coal plants

Natural gas sector suffers growth pains

aging fleet

In 2012, ISO analysis found that about 8,300 MW of New England’s oil and coal capacity would be over 40 years old in 2020. Since then, some of these older plants have already announced retirements.

New Hampshire and the rest of New England share one energy grid. We can’t ignore the shuttering of power plants in other states or the overall lack of fuel source diversity.  The smaller pool of energy sources and over-reliance on one source will continue to affect everyone’s costs. As residents and elected officials continue to talk about energy policies that affect all of us, we see increased awareness of the need for clean, affordable and reliable energy sources.

(The following are the links included in the above communication)

NH Senate pauses on power line bill
Boston Globe via AP

Natural gas sector suffers growth pains
Boston Globe

Polar Vortex emboldens industry to push old coal plants
Bloomberg Businessweek

Vermont homeowners concerned about natural gas pipeline
Bennington Banner

Pilgrim’s owner pushes for market changes to help keep the nuclear plant open
Boston Business Journal

Senate passes standards for wind turbine siting
Union Leader

Lancaster voters reject resolution against tar sands
Caledonian Record

3 NH towns vote for local control over wind farm projects
Union Leader

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High Bills Make Headlines

Is our region in the midst of an energy crisis?  The headlines tell the story.  All of New England relies on a single power grid (including New Hampshire) for a reliable and economic electricity supply.  This grid is challenged and we are literally paying the price for the lack of diversity in the region’s energy sources.

natural gas prices

This graphic from the Energy Information Administration shows the dramatic increase in the market price of natural gas this winter. This price is a leading driver of the wholesale, and eventually retail, price of energy. Source: www.eia.gov

“Independent Power Supplier Customers Get Sticker Shock”

“Natural Gas Bills Almost Double”

“Carnage on the Natural Gas Market”

“New England’s Energy Crisis and the Case Against ‘One-Of-The-Above’ Energy Policies”

Business owners and now homeowners are beginning to feel the economic impacts of our energy supply challenges.  Unfortunately, not everyone can agree on the best solutions to these problems.

Some of our elected officials have called for expanding New England’s energy infrastructure, investing in new, cleaner forms of energy, and bringing the region’s volatile energy prices under control.  Given our energy outlook, you would think we’d be forging ahead toward solutions. But what we see instead are attempts to slow down – or stop entirely – energy projects of all kinds in Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.

All of New England shares one energy grid. Future energy development, regardless of which state it’s in, will affect energy supply and prices for all of us. As New Hampshire and the rest of New England develop their energy policies in the coming year, all energy options should be on the table.

Frigid U.S. Weather Means Highest Power Prices Since ’08
(Bloomberg)

“Independent Power Supplier Customers Get Sticker Shock”
(WMUR)

“Natural Gas Bills Almost Double”
(New Hampshire Union Leader)

“Carnage on the Natural Gas Market”
(Bloomberg Business Week)

New England’s Energy Crisis And The Case Against ‘One-Of-The-Above’ Energy Policies
(Forbes)

Cold snap prompts wave of energy bills
(The Hill.com)

Vermont loves renewable energy, except when it arrives
(Associated Press)

Cornwall and Shoreham voters oppose natural gas pipeline extension
(VT Digger)

Environmentalists gearing up to oppose Tennessee Gas Pipeline plan
(Berkshire Eagle)

My Turn: Energy project bill is unfair to landowners
(Concord Monitor)

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Pocketbooks and Power Lines: putting the green back in both

Across New England, utility customers are recovering from sticker shock.  Others are bracing for it.  Natural gas prices continue to make headlines this winter, especially in areas of New England where wholesale costs forced manufacturers to send workers home.  As the Berlin Daily Sun reported this week, high gas prices continue to hinder production at Gorham Paper and Tissue.

Increased energy costs are not just a problem in New England.  Nearly everyone from the Midwest to along the Eastern Seaboard will see some effect on their bills in the coming months, as discussed in this Washington Post piece.  Some customers in Connecticut have already seen their rates suddenly spike.  Lawmakers there are looking into the matter, but many utilities warned about this impending pocketbook pinch back in January, citing the problems with natural gas.

This is the new reality, the region’s grid operator announced this week.  In its 2014 Regional Electricity Outlook, ISO-New England predicts continued challenges in meeting electricity demands.  The ISO reports that the retirement of several power plants in the coming years “poses a serious reliability challenge to the region. It reinforces New England’s dependence on natural gas and weakens the ability to weather operational issues caused by the lack of availability of gas generators.”

So how do we stop this vicious cycle?  We believe fuel diversity is key and that hydro power plays an important role.  Massachusetts lawmakers are recognizing the importance of hydro as a clean replacement for the coal, oil, and nuclear generated electricity that’s leaving the market.  They’re considering a bill that directs utility companies to purchase large amounts of green energy, including large-scale hydro.

It makes sense to look to hydroelectricity to ensure a renewable, affordable, and reliable energy portfolio.  It would ease the volatility experienced by natural gas during extreme weather conditions.  And, while other renewable sources like wind and solar have important roles to play in a diverse energy future, hydro is the only low carbon fuel that is always available regardless of whether the sun shines or the wind blows.

(Below is a list of the links referenced in this communication and their source)

How New England’s dependence on natural gas is causing a pipeline traffic jam (New Bedford Standard Times)

High gas prices continue to hinder production at GPT (Berlin Daily Sun)

Frigid winter leading to big bills for natural gas (Washington Post via Portland Press Herald)

North American Power Says It Notified Variable Rate Customers of Potential for Expensive Winter (CT News Junkie)

Electricity generation rates subject of hearing (Citizen’s News)

The New Normal (Northern Pass Journal Post)

ISO-NE’s 2014 Annual Energy Outlook (ISO-NE)

New bill to bring Canadian hydropower to Mass. is already generating concerns (Boston Business Journal)

Legislation raises question: What is clean energy? (Boston Globe)

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The New Normal?

 “The challenges to grid reliability are not a question of if they will arise, but of when—and when is now.” – Gordon Van Weile, ISO-New England CEO

The old saying goes, “if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”  A report released this week by the region’s energy grid operator finds that New England is indeed in a hole, and we need to find a way out.

The 2014 Regional Electricity Outlook (REO) from ISO-New England examines the many complicated factors that have created volatility in the region.  Electricity supply challenges like a dependency on natural gas, retiring power plants, insufficient transmission, and the further integration of renewable energy are some of the problems New England must solve.  ISO-New England CEO Gordon Van Weile writes, “…in 2014, we find these tightly interrelated challenges have become reality, and they are accelerating.”

proposed generation

The ISO has said the region needs several new power producers to come on line in the next few years, but because the group is “fuel neutral,” it does not advocate for one energy project over another.  It does, however, continually assess the region’s energy markets so lawmakers can set necessary policy, and power generators and developers can present solutions.  The 2014 REO points out New England’s energy challenges, but also notes that the solutions are complicated and the problems won’t be solved by focusing on one source of energy.

More than half of the region’s electricity currently comes from power plants that run on natural gas.  That dependency, as we’ve written about quite a lot in recent months, puts New England at risk for short supply and high prices during periods of extreme cold.  Yet 55% of the new generation proposals presented to the ISO as of January are natural gas (40% are wind and the remaining 5% are other renewable resources).

Up to a quarter of the region’s generation capacity is at risk of retiring by the end of the decade.  “…the potential magnitude of retirements over a relatively short timeframe poses a serious reliability challenge to the region,” the report finds.  “It reinforces New England’s dependence on natural gas and weakens the ability to weather operational issues caused by the lack of availability of gas generators.”

Van Weile predicts New England’s retiring power plants will be replaced with, “a combination of renewable and gas-fired resources.”  But that’s where things get tricky.  He warns, “More wind and solar power creates a need for fast-starting, flexible resources that can take up the slack when the wind stops or the clouds roll in. New natural gas generators will likely fill this role, with their relative ease of siting and typically lower fuel costs—but this will further strain natural gas pipeline capacity.”

And all of that proposed wind power?  To reach the grid, “Billions of dollars in transmission expansion and upgrades would be needed to connect large amounts of remote wind energy to demand centers.” 

The 2014 REO shows that the time for solutions to our energy problems is now.  It also shows that limiting those solutions won’t solve our problem.

Northern Pass can be a significant contributor to building a reliable, renewable energy future for New England.  Hydro power is a renewable energy that is available when the grid needs it.  It is not susceptible to pipeline constraints like natural gas, and, in the case of Northern Pass, will reduce our carbon emissions by up to 5 million tons.  Furthermore, there is no single project proposed in the region that will supply as much power as Northern Pass:  1,200 megawatts, enough to power a million homes.

Northern Pass should not be the only solution.  Diversity is key to ensuring a reliable energy future.  As the report puts it, “It will take continued collaboration and a concerted effort from the ISO, the industry, and policymakers to keep our evolving power system on a reliable and efficient course.”

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It Takes All Kinds (of energy projects…)

Think back to your sixth grade science class and what you learned about problem solving.  First, you had to identify the problem.  Then you came up with ideas on how to solve that problem.  After that, you got to work on solutions.

New Hampshire and New England have identified the problem: our energy portfolio is dangerously reliant on natural gas, putting customers at risk for unpredictable prices because of pipeline constraints.  And with several power plants retiring in the next few years, there may be a shortfall of available energy.

Energy developers and policy makers are coming up with ways to solve this problem, proposing new generation, transmission projects, and natural gas pipeline expansions.  While all new energy projects face challenges, they should each be weighed as part of a broad solution to ensure there’ll be enough power to meet our near- and long-term needs.

Report: Gas pipeline not enough to avert New England energy crisis
(Union Leader)
The New England governors are looking for ways to pay for significant natural gas pipeline, seeking an additional billion cubic feet of capacity a day available to the region.  But as this Union Leader article points out, that won’t be enough.  One analyst writes, “Electricity prices have routinely doubled this winter … These prices have closed New England mills for weeks on end, strained home budgets and burdened New England’s economy uniquely among regions in the nation.”  (Read the analyst report from Competitive Energy Services referenced in the article here.)

Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline owner wants to retrofit pipeline to bring gas from south (Bangor Daily News) & Tennessee Gas launches open season for New England pipe expansion (Platts)
These two articles show natural gas suppliers that have proposed building off of existing infrastructure to bring more natural gas to New England, a region that has been suffering from pipeline constraints.  But neither of these plans alone will be enough to lower prices and fill the projected deficit of energy in the region.

Quadrupling solar energy use in Mass.
(NECN)
The state of Massachusetts recently announced its intent to double the amount of solar energy it generates from 400 megawatts to 1,600 megawatts at a cost of as much $1billion over the next 20 years.  That works out to be a little more than dollar a month per utility customer.  But as MA Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan says in this NECN interview, doing nothing will be far more costly than investing in solar and other renewable sources.

UPDATE:  Energy Developers Critical, Environmentalists Hopeful On SEC Reform
(NHPR)
Last week we drew your attention to a new bill, SB 245, which spells out reforms to the Site Evaluation Committee.  The first hearing on that bill was Wednesday and this NHPR report sums up what happened.  There was also a hearing on SB 200, which would mandate burying transmission lines along state transportation corridors.  The AP report on that can be found here

We are constantly reminded of the fact that there is no one solution.  In order to build a diverse, reliable and, preferably, clean portfolio, New England will need to welcome a diverse set of reliable and clean energy sources.  We believe Northern Pass should be a part of that.

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