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
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.
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
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.