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From Wind Projects to Pipelines: Energy Policymakers Play Games With Funds

From Wind Projects to Pipelines: Energy Policymakers Play Games With Funds
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Thursday, 08 February 2018 06:55 AM Current | Bio | Archive

For years, Massachusetts and its neighboring states have lacked the infrastructure they need to efficiently and affordably move natural gas and other energy resources families’ need for heating and electricity,

Gordon van Welie, CEO of ISO New England, which operates the regional power grid, said in a recent analysis that there have been “times when we’ve just skated by” in meeting electricity needs on high-demand days – like on frigid winter days. This problem, he adds, has led operators to consider taking “stronger measures” to protect the grid when demand skyrockets – like “asking the public for voluntary conservation” or “ordering controlled power outages."

In the meantime, household energy prices keep climbing.

Federal statistics show that more than half of the top 10 states with the highest electricity prices reside in New England, Massachusetts included. Families in this region have collectively paid more than $7 billion more for electricity in recent winters than other parts of the country with more reliable energy access.

Those most affected by these prices are lower-income families and those living in poverty, many of whom spend a larger percentage of their take-home income on energy-related costs than those in other income brackets.

That means, for these households, they often must decide between heating their homes and putting food on the table. No one should have to make that decision.

Instead of greenlighting proposals to expand or build infrastructure to lower costs and help with demand, legislators have instead done all they can to put up roadblocks – not just on pipelines, but on renewables, which some lawmakers say they favor.

Case in point: Cape Wind Associates LLC recently abandoned their proposed offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound, negating over 10 years’ worth of research, work and advocacy after opponents argued that the project would have negative environmental and economic impacts.

But those who stood opposed to the wind farm – like the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, whose president called the project’s end “a major accomplishment” – failed to see the larger impact of the loss.

With 130 wind turbines, it would have been a major boost to the state’s energy supply and the sorely-needed jumpstart the country’s offshore wind industry has been looking for. It would have also helped produce the type of clean energy many legislators say they advocate for.

Yet it met a fate like the kind pipeline proposals has seen.

This continues a trend of regulators either rejecting energy expansion proposals out of hand or adopting legislation that makes it harder to finance the energy infrastructure New England needs – just like what happened with the Access Northeast pipeline, which would have saved New Englanders a reported $1 billion annually before efforts to finalize its construction was bunged by the state Senate and utilities withdrew the project.

Stonewalling all energy projects isn’t a solution.

Here’s what is: A strategy that utilizes every resource available to us to balance affordability, reliability and environmental safeguards. It can be done – upping energy security, upgrading our infrastructure, advancing alternative energy and pushing forward with cutting-edge innovations – if we work together

If the potential of something as drastic and terrifying as controlled power outages and continuously increasing energy prices isn’t enough to make us compromise, what will?

David Holt is president of the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA).

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From Wind Projects to Pipelines, Policymakers Play Games With Pocketbooks
policymakers, games, energy, funds
553
2018-55-08
Thursday, 08 February 2018 06:55 AM
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