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”
Higher cost of keeping warm a drag on the economy
New England’s wholesale electric prices soared by 55 percent last year
Boston Business Journal
State to distribute $20 million in heating aid