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Energy Efficiency Instead of a New Natural Gas Pipeline for New England?

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In energy circles, it’s been a given for years that New England lacks adequate natural gas pipeline. Calls to build more pipeline heightened after natural gas prices soared in the bitter cold winters of 2012/13 and 2013/14.

But a new report sponsored by GDF Suez Energy North America challenges the need for the pipeline, in part because of New England’s aggressive campaign to improve energy efficiency and increase demand response and renewable energy.

“The automatic assumption is that high price signals are indicating the need for new infrastructure. Not in this case,” says the report, “Analysis of Alternative Winter Reliability Solutions for New England Energy Markets,” by Energyzt Advisors.

The report cites several reasons why the pipeline is not needed – any why electric ratepayers should not be required to subsidize it.

Pipeline advocates misread the market dynamics that caused natural gas prices to spike – and with them electricity costs, the report says. Its authors see those winter price spikes as peculiarities caused by a unique set of circumstances that have since changed.

Now the region has more access to liquefied natural gas and additional dual-fuel power generators. Privately built pipeline projects are in the works. ISO New England has added incentives for plants to run during severe cold (rather than sell their sought-after natural gas.) And plans are underway for a new electric transmission line to bring green energy from Canada to New England.

Demand for power flat

But most interesting to us are figures showing a flattening of electricity and natural consumption that may belie need for the natural gas pipeline in New England.

Read the rest at EnergyEfficientMarkets.com

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