Boston Globe: Massachusetts residents pay the highest power bills in the continental US

Published July 14, 2018

The Boston Globe calls on legislators to take action to solve the region’s energy crisis:

An extra dollar a month, to ensure the lights stay on in the dead of winter, might not seem like such a big deal.

But Massachusetts residents already pay the highest electricity bills in the continental United States. The rest of New England isn’t far behind. So a decision last week by federal regulators that cleared the way to add up to another $1 a month for all New England ratepayers, for two years starting in 2022, should set off alarms.

….Now that the costs are starting to materialize, it won’t work to blame ISO New England or FERC, which appear to be doing the best they can to cope with a problem Massachusetts has foisted on the region. For their financial sacrifices, New England residents won’t be getting cleaner power — they’ll just be keeping less climate-friendly generators on life support indefinitely. The Legislature let the problem get to this point, and the Legislature needs to solve it too.

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Boston Globe: Coal may get undeserved boost after Mystic decision

Published July 13

Coal plants burn the dirtiest of fuels, and they can’t disappear fast enough, writes the Boston Globe editorial board. Why is Massachusetts still relying on them?

By choosing to ignore bona fide fuel scarcity in New England, Massachusetts teed up a test case that may have grim environmental consequences in places where fuel security is no more than a pretext for making coal great again.

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Boston Globe: Why you’ll pay for Beacon Hill’s pipeline folly

Published April 22, 2018

In 2016, the Massachusetts Legislature blocked financing for natural gas infrastructure in New England, citing benefits for consumers and the environment. “But nearly the opposite has happened instead,” the Boston Globe editorial board writes:

And now the damage — environmental and financial — is starting to pile up.

The environmental toll this year has been eye-popping: Greenhouse gas pollution exploded during this winter’s cold snap, leading generators to burn 2 million barrels of oil, forcing the region to rely on imported Russian gas, and sparking a mini-revival for the region’s moribund coal industry. In January New Hampshire burned more coal than New York, according to federal statistics.

All that extra pollution was also expensive. Energy cost totaled more than $700 million compared with the same period last year; if past cold winters are any guide, that premium will trickle down to consumers’ electric bills next winter.

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Boston Globe: Gas-by-train? Beacon Hill opens the door

Published March 4, 2018

In an editorial, the Boston Globe urges Massachusetts legislators to “reject rhetoric that pits encouraging renewables and reducing fossil fuel-related emissions against each other, as if the Commonwealth can’t pursue both.”

The resulting capacity shortfalls during the winter forced power plants to switch to dirtier coal and oil, driving up greenhouse gas emissions, and caused the state to rely on gas imports from a sanctioned Russian gas company linked to one of Vladimir Putin’s closest cronies (a second ship carrying Russian gas docked Thursday in Everett). Keeping out pipelines has also meant that even new power plants in Massachusetts are planning to build higher-emitting oil generators as winter backup.

But it also exposes shortcomings in the broader abstinence-only ideology the pipeline vote embodied. Some kinds of fossil fuels burn cleaner than others, and some ways of transporting them do less damage. Using incentives and the limited powers of state government to steer industry toward less harmful outcomes should be a priority.

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Boston Globe: Editorial board calls on Massachusetts lawmakers to prioritize energy infrastructure

Published February 13, 2018

The editorial board of the Boston Globe calls on state lawmakers to reset policy and prioritize energy infrastructure, writing that Beacon Hill has put short-term tactical victories ahead of strategic progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Globe quoted Ernest J. Moniz, Fall River, Massachusetts resident and the former secretary of energy under President Barack Obama, who demonstrates that natural gas is a critical step towards such strategic progress:

“Natural gas has shown itself to be an important bridge to a clean energy future. For New England, expanding the pipeline capacity from the Marcellus” — the area of shale gas production in Pennsylvania — “makes the most sense.”

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Boston Globe: Arrival of Russian gas stirs Ukrainian community

Published February 1, 2018

Policy makers have imposed a double standard, rejecting domestic gas over solvable concerns while accepting, with apparently no questions asked, the need for foreign LNG shipments with troubling environmental and human rights implications.

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Boston Globe: When it comes to Russian gas, just say nyet

Published January 30, 2018

The Boston Globe editorial board outlines how a law from 1920 and a resistance to natural gas infrastructure led to a reliance on Russian gas during the 2018 winter.

The first reason a Russian firm got the state’s business is one of the oldest, and most entrenched, mistakes in US law: the Jones Act, an antiquated rule that effectively stops America from exporting LNG to itself, and forces companies like Distrigas to shop overseas instead….

As much as it needs reform, the Jones Act isn’t under the the state’s control. Its restrictive approach to gas pipelines, though, is something state policy makers could relax.

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Boston Globe: Mass. turned to oil and coal during the cold snap. Here’s what went wrong

Published January 11

During the harshest days of the late 2017 to early 2018 cold snap, oil accounted for more than 30 percent of New England’s energy mix, the Boston Globe editorial board writes.

For a region that prides itself as a leader against climate change, the numbers were sobering: As recently as Monday, 19 percent of New England’s energy supply came from oil, and 7 percent from coal, according to the grid operator. Rates had climbed even higher on the worst days of the recent cold spell, when power plants in New England burned tons of the dirtiest fuels available. On some days, oil accounted for more than 30 percent of the region’s energy mix.

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