New England States Explore Energy Alternatives

Energy is expensive everywhere. However, while it may not be widely known elsewhere around the country, it is certainly no secret to those of us living here in Massachusetts that the commonwealth ranks as one of the most expensive when it comes to energy costs. With this in mind, state legislators and energy companies are making a concentrated effort to procure alternate sources of energy to augment current supply.

Officials from the state’s utilities and energy boards hope to source renewable energy from northern regions of the U.S. and Canada while simultaneously opening channels of less expensive natural gas via pipelines from both southern and western areas.

As part of this “diversified” solution, supplies of Canadian hydroelectric power already being generated will be imported while northern New England continues to develop wind farms on a mass scale.

National Grid, a provider of both gas and electric services in the Commonwealth, issued statements saying that both energy sources should be approved. Marcy Reed, the president of National Grid Massachusetts recently stated: “We say we need both pipelines.” National Grid normally “stockpiles” imported liquefied natural gas that is shipped in through port facilities. However, the gas was traded on a global market last year, and New England was the highest global bidder for those natural gas supplies. According to various sources, during the last three winters since 2011-2012, New England paid $1.6 billion to $3.8 billion higher wholesale electricity costs than has been typical.

The Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy is getting ready to hear from clean energy industry officials and those representing energy derivatives from power plants.  Committee Co-Chairman Sen. Benjamin Downing, pointed out that utility companies believe a lack of capacity in gas pipelines is the main culprit behind rate hikes during recent winter months and say there is an urgent need for natural gas flowing into the state from external sources.

According to Matthew Beaton, the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, other energy experts are saying the scarcity of natural gas is a “regional affair” and governors from several New England states are convening soon to discuss regional energy policies.

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