Natural gas pipelines could alleviate New England’s energy woes

   As temperatures in New England dropped to historic lows last winter, many residents found their energy costs going up. It is a scenario that could happen in years to come without increased infrastructure to bring more natural gas to consumers in this area.

   We have an abundance of natural gas and it offers consumers a clean and affordable source of energy. And while we don’t lack of supply, we do need more pipelines.

   This week, I highlighted the prospects and challenges to natural gas demand at the summer meeting held by the Independent Oil and Gas Association (IOGA) of New York. In my presentation, I talked about the key economic and environmental benefits natural gas can provide the Northeast and more importantly, how a renewed pipeline system can bring natural gas to the places that need it most.

   This region is home to some of America’s largest and most affordable natural gas resources. Yet, the few hundred miles from the Northern border of Pennsylvania through New England is increasingly constrained by an outdated pipeline system that impedes access and delivery, which leads to price spikes when demand peaks. And demand just continues to grow.

   Natural gas now makes up more than 50 percent of New England’s energy mix, from less than 15 percent in 2000. According to industry studies, pipeline capacity would have to increase by about 50 percent to meet current needs.

   There are many reasons for this increase in demand. First of all, Northeasterners are rightly concerned about their impact on the planet. As members of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which relies in part on natural gas to reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector, these states are committed to long-term clean energy solutions that include natural gas. They also have correctly decided that natural gas is a cleaner and more affordable way to heat their homes than heating oil.

   Seeing the challenges of building the infrastructure to get this gas where it needs to go, New England state leaders are proposing thoughtful approaches to meet demand by developing policies to make sure pipelines can get financed. We certainly support these efforts.

   By prioritizing a secure, modern pipeline infrastructure to improve access and better serve its residents and businesses region-wide, the Northeast can become more energy secure, promote a cleaner environment and protect against energy price fluctuations for generations to come.


By Paul Hartman, ANGA’s Northern Regional Director of State Affairs.

America's Natural Gas Alliance

July 16, 2014