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December 28th, 2016:

With Gas Pipeline Projects Blocked, State Searching for an Energy Plan

American Energy Coalition - December 28th, 2016

Connecticut policymakers are scrambling to develop a new energy strategy to replace Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s failed energy policy that was based on building new natural gas infrastructure at the ratepayers’ expense, according to a recent article in the Hartford Courant.

The article notes that that, “decisions in Massachusetts and New Hampshire have stalled multibillion-dollar pipeline projects to bring more natural gas to New England. The long-range consequences of taking the wrong path now could lead to millions of dollars in added energy costs for consumers, missing mandated greenhouse gas emission reductions and a weaker business climate.”

The Malloy administration has missed the legislative deadline for completing an update to his Comprehensive Energy Strategy, but state officials now say they hope to have it completed by early next year, according to the Courant. “The challenge of inadequate regional natural gas capacity to serve power plants is greater than one state can solve alone,” said Department of Energy and Environmental Protection spokesman Dennis Schain. Until there is full regional cooperation to pay for major gas projects, Connecticut officials will “continue to pursue several other options to meet our energy needs… in a manner that ensures the reliability of power at the lowest possible cost to ratepayers,” he stated in a press release.

“A big factor in this energy dilemma is how to get all the New England states to agree on major solutions,” the article states. “The gas pipeline plans were ‘all premised on regional cooperation,’ said Sen. Paul Doyle, a Wethersfield Democrat who is co-chairman of the General Assembly's energy and technology committee, “and the whole thing backfired.”

The problem for energy planners in this state is that realistic proposals for financing these major pipelines will require legislative changes in Massachusetts and New Hampshire – which Connecticut officials can’t control, the Courant wrote. “A court ruling in Massachusetts and an administrative decision in New Hampshire have effectively prohibited ratepayers in those states from having to pay pipeline costs,” the article states. “One $3.3 billion pipeline plan was dropped early in 2016 because of uncertainty over financing the project. Eversource is a major player in a different, $3 billion proposed pipeline expansion called Access Northeast, but that's been blocked by the actions in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.”

In late October, those decisions led Malloy's energy office to halt consideration of major natural gas pipeline plans, explaining that Connecticut ratepayers can't be expected to carry all the burden of those projects if other New England states won’t pay their fair share, the article states.

Existing pipelines are too old and too small to bring in the amount of gas the region needs, according to energy industry experts, particularly during frigid winter periods, according to the Courant.

“Both environmentalists and industry officials say what is needed is a ‘balanced approach’ to solving Connecticut's energy needs, without over-reliance on any one type of energy,” the article states.

To read the Hartford Courant article, click here.

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