Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Pipeline a risk-laden boondoggle

The front page story in the Feb. 1 Sentinel — “Energy costs under scrutiny” — may be confusing to readers concerned with the prospect of the NED fracked gas pipeline coming to the region. I would like to clarify a few things. The article states that the “Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is examining New Hampshire's high fees for transmitting electricity ... to customers' homes or businesses.” If you check your Eversource bill, you will see that it is broken down into energy supply costs, which are related to the cost of fuel used in the creation of electricity and distribution or transmission costs, which are essentially operating costs associated with getting electricity to consumers. It is these distribution costs that FERC is investigating — not supply costs.
The entire justification for the NED pipeline is bogus. We don't need more gas to lower our electric rates, we need transmission costs to be more in line with other electricity generating operations. The NED pipeline is a hoax, being foisted upon us in order to justify tearing up our state, fouling our water and air and endangering our health, without a shred of evidence that this will lead to lower rates for consumers.
The primary purpose of the NED pipeline is for Kinder Morgan to sell capacity on the pipeline and for gas companies to transport fracked gas, export it, and make a profit.
It's about time FERC investigates our transmission rates and clarifies that the rates we pay for electricity are not likely to be ameliorated by more gas in the supply chain. The unreasonably high transmission costs we pay are most likely due to the fact that we are still paying for a lot of bad investments including stranded costs of Seabrook and the scrubber at the Merrimack Station coal plant. Now we are being asked to make a huge investment in yet another boondoggle.
The cost of the pipeline will also be born by ratepayers; this alone will raise electric bills. And if the pipeline is built and has to be abandoned due to the disastrous side effects of fracking, pipelines or lack of demand, we will still have to pay for it. Remember, this is a multi-billion dollar project. Whether it turns out to be a good investment or bad, you are on the hook.
Our region has seen a pattern of reduced energy demand due to more efficient lighting and appliances as well as through the use of more renewable sources of energy. We are being asked to take enormous financial, environmental, and health risks by building more dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure just as we are experiencing a renewable energy revolution.
Support of the NED pipeline might benefit politicians in our lobby-driven campaign finance system, but it offers the rest of us nothing but risks, dangers and higher prices. This project should be soundly rejected by all New Hampshire ratepayers.

Susan Wessels


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