Monday, February 24, 2014

Plan to "Fix" High MA Natural Gas Prices: You Pay Twice

With New England once again wracked by high natural gas prices this winter, Massachusetts' plan to "fix" it involves building a new gas pipeline to deliver fracked gas from Appalachia (but not from the neighborhood of ExxonMobil's CEO).

Would it be built with the massive profits oil & gas companies are making off of charging us record prices? Nope. As Ariel Wittenberg reports in the New Bedford Standard-Timesyou'll pay twice:
In January, the six New England governors sent a letter to ISO-NE with a plan to diversify the region's energy infrastructure. The plan has two parts, the first of which is to create more pipeline for natural gas with public funding.

"We want more people to switch to natural gas, and we want to be using natural gas for electricity," [Massachusetts Assistant Secretary for Energy Steven] Clarke said. "We want to gain access to affordable, cleaner energy. That's where the pipeline comes in."
Why would we subsidize fracked gas? There's more and more evidence that from a global warming perspective, fracked gas is just as bad as coal. We're just replacing one addiction to climate-disrupting high-carbon energy with another. If we're going to be investing public funding in new energy sources, why not go all out with clean energy, starting with Cape Wind?
[A]fter a particularly bad three-day cold snap in 2004 that strained electric generators, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources conducted a study of how Cape Wind would have helped the system.

Using meteorological data from Nantucket Sound, the study found that Cape Wind could have supplied 25,596 megawatt hours of energy during those three days. According to the study, had that energy come from Cape Wind and not natural gas at the time, 184.25 million standard cubic feet of gas would have been saved — enough to heat 1,600 homes for a year.

"Offshore wind would lessen some of the pressure on the pipeline that we have and would make a more secure electric grid," [Cape Wind spokesman Mark] Rodgers said. "Offshore wind can really provide utility-scale clean power to the East Coast at times when it is needed more."
Yes, clean energy will cost a little bit more up front. But how much will it save us in reduced carbon pollution? Superstorm Sandy alone caused $68 billion in damage on the East Coast. We're supposed to get freaked out that offshore wind and local solar will raise our bills by a couple of bucks a month? Please.
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