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UNH study: no need for pipeline

Mar 14, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

According to a new report from the University of New Hampshire (UNH), the Granite State does not need more natural gas pipeline.  This contradicts other studies and reports about the need for more pipeline in New England.

The UNH study examines three factors related to expanded natural gas pipeline capacity: the cost of electricity in New Hampshire, the reliability of New Hampshire’s electric supply, and potential financial risks for ratepayers.

The Carsey School of Public Policy at UNH argues that the cost of electricity is not the crisis it may seem.  According to the report, “while the price per kilowatt hour of electricity in New Hampshire has been higher than the national average for decades, the average residential electricity bill is equal to the national average and the average commercial electricity bill is lower than the national average.”  This is due to energy efficiency improvements.

In terms of grid reliability, the report points out that the electric grid has proven itself through several extreme weather events, such as the polar vortex of January 2014.

Lastly, the report asserts that the energy market is rapidly changing, which means a long-term investment in natural gas is financially risky for ratepayers.  Instead, the Carsey School report recommends increased investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The report contradicts the conclusions of a 2015 study from the New England Coalition for Affordable Energy.  That report found that many older coal, oil, and nuclear power plants are retiring, which will increase the demand for natural gas.  Natural gas already accounts for roughly 50% of New England’s electricity, so there is no denying the importance of natural gas supply in electricity pricing.  The report estimated that “failure to expand pipeline infrastructure will lead to approximately $770 million in additional energy costs to the region from 2016 to 2020.” 

The New England Coalition for Affordable Energy report also noted other benefits to building natural gas pipeline, such as construction jobs.

Other businesses have publicly stated that high electricity costs in New England have prevented them from expanding in the region. 

Do you think New Hampshire needs more natural gas pipeline or not?  Share your opinion in the comments.

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