Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has announced that her office has commissioned a study – to be launched immediately and completed by October – that will identify and evaluate options to address electricity reliability needs in New England through 2030, including natural gas capacity demand in the region.
“Our goal with this study is to identify the most cost-effective solutions for ratepayers that will also allow us to achieve our regional climate goals,” said AG Healey. “As the state makes long-term decisions about additional gas capacity investments, we should understand the facts—what the future demand is, and which cost-effective energy and efficiency resources can be deployed to meet that demand.”
The study will be funded with support from the private, Boston-based Barr Foundation; and will be conducted by Analysis Group, a Boston-based economic and financial consulting firm.
Raab Associates, another Beantown-based consultancy with substantial energy and regulatory experience, will provide professional facilitation for an Advisory Group to the Attorney General’s Office and to Analysis Group on the study.
The researchers plan to evaluate all potentially available energy resource options to meet reliability needs, including natural gas (both natural gas pipelines and LNG), oil, hydro imports, energy efficiency, demand response and renewables.
The study will be designed to provide an assessment of costs and benefits – including price impacts, of each option, consistent with the region’s energy and climate goals. A key focus of the research will be the question of whether more natural gas is needed in the region, and if so, how much more capacity is needed.
While there have been a number of prior studies conducted, none has answered the specific questions of how much additional gas is needed in the New England region – and whether that gas can by supplied by LNG or whether additional pipeline capacity (and how much) is needed.
The study also will focus on a longer time frame — through 2030 — than has been done before; and on those options that will allow the region to meet applicable greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction requirements.
AG Healey has called on the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to rigorously study natural gas capacity needs before making any decisions regarding gas pipelines. Kinder Morgan and its subsidiary Tennessee Gas had recently proposed bringing gas from the Marcellus shale fields in Pennsylvania and New York to a central hub in Dracut, bordering southern New Hampshire. The line would pass through area communities.