Oh, to be so close, yet still so far! Despite the fact that plentiful sources of low-cost energy are at New England’s doorstep, residents and businesses in the Northeast will likely be paying higher utility bills for the foreseeable future. And it’s not for a lack of ideas.
One effort currently under development to relieve the region’s constrained energy infrastructure would charge utility customers to fund new natural gas pipelines and clean energy transmission lines. This initiative from the six New England Governors is far from a done deal, and any projects selected through the process would still undergo a thorough public review and siting process before they could be built. There are also proposed market based projects that are subject to the same public review.
Despite the region’s desperate need for new sources of energy, the environment for development is turbulent. A natural gas pipeline proposal, which could possibly be funded by the governors’ efforts, is finding stiff opposition in Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. A group of Vermonters continues to petition and protest against a smaller-scale pipeline expansion, and one coastal Maine community recently took steps to block exports of Canadian tar sands oil. Even in neighboring New York, there are efforts to curtail the operations of an existing nuclear power plant (which occasionally supplies power to New England).
Americans spent more than $360 billion dollars on electricity in 2012. Last winter, New England paid billions more for energy than it did the winter before. The region’s grid operator, ISO-NE, is taking unprecedented measures to ensure there’ll be enough power to keep the lights on. Policy makers, developers, and those in the public who both support and oppose projects must keep calm heads and work through their disagreements to advance solutions the region demands. Otherwise, we’ll soon learn the true cost of inaction.
Make no bad deals on pipeline expansion
(Foster’s Daily Democrat)
Transmission projects aim to tap Canadian hydroelectricity
A regional power solution
The Pipeline Revolt
(The Valley Advocate)
Hollis, Brookline and Pepperell unite in march against pipeline
Opponents Petition Against Proposed Gas Pipeline
(Associated Press, Burlington, VT)
South Portland approves law barring tar sands oil
(Portland Press Herald)
Tar sands battleground: South Portland
(Portland Press Herald)
The coming battle over an ‘unprecedented’ Indian Point shutdown
(Capital New York)
Grid overseer seeks federal help to keep plans for Salem power plant alive
(Boston Business Journal)