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Tuesday
Jan282014

New England Governors announce proposal to expand regional energy infrastructure

The six New England governors have announced a cooperative regional initiative designed to expand energy infrastructure in New England.

A letter sent to ISO New England on January 21, from the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE), an organization made up of representatives appointed by the governors in each state, proposed a plan to expand the capacity of the natural gas pipeline system in the region and facilitate the development of additional electric transmission line infrastructure to improve access to renewable power sources. To spur the construction of new or expanded natural gas pipeline capacity, the states have asked the ISO to seek a tariff change to allow the ISO to collect the costs from electric market participants.

ISO New England is encouraged by the states’ focus on developing additional energy infrastructure. On January 27, the ISO sent a response letter informing NESCOE and the governors that the ISO is reviewing the request for a tariff change to help fund natural gas infrastructure expansion, and will move forward expeditiously on the request. Any new mechanism in the ISO’s tariff will need to be reviewed and discussed with the states and NEPOOL participants in the regional stakeholder process and then submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approval. The ISO also noted that it is pleased to continue to provide technical assistance and other support to the states, as it has done in the past, as they pursue their clean energy goals.

Through the Strategic Planning Initiative and as discussed in the letter, the ISO has identified the region’s reliance on natural gas for power generation, and the need for additional natural gas pipeline infrastructure to meet the high demand for natural gas for both heating and power generation, as one of the most pressing challenges to continued reliability of the electric power system. Pipeline constraints, along with the high prices for natural gas this winter and last, are contributing to an increase in the price of wholesale power, and are more evidence of the need to expand the supply of natural gas into the region. At times, these constraints are also limiting the supply of natural gas to power generators, which can pose a threat to grid reliability.

View more articles about the Strategic Planning Initiative.