A New England governors' plan to finance new projects for mega-scale gas pipelines and electric power lines to deliver more power to the region has further fueled a four-year-long battle, bringing stiff opposition from environmentalists, landowners and others who believe the plans would tap billions of dollars in public money without fairly considering lower-cost alternatives.
The pipeline would increase capacity by 20% within three years; the transmission line would deliver hydro- electric energy from Canada.
On his blog, Christophe Courchesne, a Conservation Law Foundation lawyer, on June 24 posted documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. CLF, which claims the states and the non-profit New England States Committee on Electricity are deliberately working in secret, wants the governors and NESCOE "to bring transparency to the [planning] process," Courchesne states.
Massachusetts has worked toward energy efficiency with its aggressive greenhouse-gas reduction goals, but that alone won't solve the issue, he notes. "We have to replace energy generation with the cleanest resources available," he says.
Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH), a Northeast Utilities subsidiary, holds that the $1.4-billion Northern Pass project—a plan to run 187 miles of new power lines from Canada down through New Hampshire—would benefit New Hampshire and New England.
ISO New England, the regional grid operator, estimates that up to 8,300 MW of non-gas-fired generation from 28 older oil and coal units is "at risk" for retirement by 2020.
The Northern Pass would deliver 1,200 MW of "clean, renewable and affordable" hydropower that would help to reduce wholesale power costs by up to $350 million a year, says Lauren Collins, PSNH spokeswoman. It has received ISO-NE approval and is now in federal permitting.
Another project generating controversy is Kinder Morgan's Tennessee Gas Pipeline Northeast Energy Direct project. The company is seeking regulatory approval to upgrade its 367-mile gas pipeline system that serves New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut, according to the company website. The capacity of the project can be sized from approximately 600 million cu ft per day to up to 2.2 billion cu ft per day.
Rather than spending billions of dollars on ratepayer-subsidized infrastructure that focuses on the supply side of the equation, he asks, "What if we spent on the energy-demand side? What kinds of efficiencies could be achieved to reduce our [energy needs]?"