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Friday, February 10, 2017

Study: Pipeline expansion would cost ratepayers/Hartford

Here's one of the reasons it is so hard to determine if "renewables" are competitive with traditional fuels:  The pricing around fossil fuel is many times murky.  The true costs of building and maintaining infrastructure is understated.  Plus lots of times we leave out the added burden to the heal care system.

The ISO here is basically saying we have a crying future need for more gas and oil.  Other experts claim through efficiency, clean tech, renewables our demand has already least in the US and Canada.  Ratepayers will feel the brunt of investments in sourcing more power.  It would be blatantly unfair to them if the costs was under estimated by billions.

Of course, this study was commissioned by a non-profit with a mission to protect the environment.  Clearly they have a bias.  Yet their findings warren further scrutiny on the true cost of delivering more oil and gas to New England.  There are other choices.  Some of those alternatives have much less environmental risk and are more flexible.  And through some creative legislation and policy, why can't we map a fast track to substantially cutting consumption across the entire region.  What a return on investment that represents for all rate payers.

Contributed photo
A post marking a section of Spectra Energy's Algonquin natural gas pipeline, which transports gas to Connecticut from the Marcellus Shale.

"A study commissioned by environmental and consumer groups claims that the Access Northeast pipeline expansion would cost more than its proponents have said.
Written by Massachusetts-based Synapse Energy Economics, the Feb. 7 study says the proposed expansion of the Algonquin Gas Transmission network -- which crosses Connecticut -- would cost $6.6 billion instead of the $3.2 billion estimated price tag previously stated by its developers.
That's because of operation, maintenance and other costs over a 20-year period, it said.
According to Synapse's calculations, the pipeline -- which faces an uncertain future due to legal rulings in several surrounding states -- would cost New England $277 million over 20 years, including $85 million in Connecticut.
In addition, Synapse concluded there will be a reduced need for natural gas capacity moving forward, due to state-level clean energy laws and ongoing other expansions that will alleviate capacity restraints that have been cited by grid operator ISO-New England and Access Northeast's developers, which include Spectra, Eversource and National Grid.
Eversource spokesman Mitch Gross on Thursday called the figures in the report "overstated" and said the report "fails to recognize the energy challenges facing consumers and businesses in New England."
"The lack of adequate natural gas infrastructure is threatening our region's energy reliability, driving up costs and hurting efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions," he said. "In fact, in December alone, New Englanders paid electricity prices that were 47 percent higher than the national average – in large part due to inadequate natural gas supplies."
Concerns over the retirements of non-gas power plants in New England have led ISO CEO Gordon Van Welie to express concern about meeting power demands in the coming winters.
In a recent filing to federal regulators, Access Northeast developers said they were taking additional time "to solidify the commercial foundation" of the project.
If New England's electric ratepayers won't pay for construction, another potential path forward for the pipeline is securing supply commitments from natural gas utilities."

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