It looks like Massachusetts doesn't need new natural gas pipelines after all.
After a multi-year propaganda blitz by the natural gas industry and its allies in the government and regulatory sectors, a new study commissioned by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey reveals that the proposed pipelines are not the best solution to the state's energy needs.
"As we make long-term decisions about our energy future, it's imperative we have the facts," said AG Healey. "This study demonstrates that we do not need increased gas capacity to meet electric reliability needs, and that electric ratepayers shouldn't foot the bill for additional pipelines."
Leaders of the heating oil industry are vindicated by the new report, which was prepared for Healey by The Analysis Group. The heating oil industry was shunned under the administration of former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick despite the great strides it made to deliver cleaner-burning heating oil. The industry has led a push to reduce the fuel's sulfur content by 99 percent by replacing traditional heating oil with Ultra Low Sulfur Heating Oil. At the same time, oil heat associations throughout the region are displacing petroleum heating oil with renewable biodiesel, which the California Air Resources Board has called the most environmentally friendly replacement for petroleum.
The assault on heating oil has been even more egregious in Connecticut, where Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has aggressively pushed natural gas expansion with the express goal of converting customers from oil heating to natural gas heating, despite studies showing that blends of Ultra Low Sulfur Heating Oil and biodiesel are cleaner burning than natural gas.
Utilities in both states have attained the government's blessing to pass the costs of pipeline construction onto the backs of electric ratepayers, despite warnings from the Conservation Law Foundation and others that the projects could leave ratepayers with a heavy cost burden for gas capacity that the region doesn't need. Meanwhile, the commodity cost benefits of natural gas have eroded. Natural gas prices had fallen far below oil prices for several years as recently as 2014, but oil prices have now collapsed too, so that heating oil and natural gas prices are once again highly competitive at the consumer level.
Read the Attorney General's Announcement of the study here.
Read a press release from the Massachusetts Energy Marketers Association here.