(The opinions expressed on this page are not necessarily those of the New Hampshire Journal. The Journal welcomes opinions on all sides of issues and from all candidates for office.)
By LOU D’ALLESANDRO
As countless families and small businesses across the Granite State realized this winter, the cost of electricity is skyrocketing. The reason is simple: our supply of natural gas for electricity generation is in short supply.
In addition to our efforts around conservation and use of renewables, we have reduced our dependence on coal and oil in favor of cleaner and more efficient natural gas. New England is particularly hard hit as we must import natural gas from Canada and the Gulf of Mexico on very limited pipeline infrastructure. According to a recent study by the Industrial Energy Consumer Group, New England needs roughly 2 billion cubic feet of new natural gas pipeline capacity to eliminate future cost spikes for consumers. The good news is that there are potential new options to bring less expensive natural gas to our region.
On Dec. 2, 2014, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued its final approval for the Constitution Pipeline. The 124-mile Constitution Pipeline would bring an abundant source of natural gas from northeast Pennsylvania – not Canada or the Gulf — through 4 counties in New York where it would connect to our front door through an existing natural gas pipeline.
New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation is currently conducting public meetings on the Constitution Pipeline, and with timely approval and construction of this privately financed project, this tremendous resource would be available to New England consumers next year. Once constructed, it is estimated the Constitution Pipeline will bring enough competitively priced natural gas to serve approximately 3 million homes per day in the Northeast.
The increased supply of natural gas that Constitution will provide to New England will help meet the growing demand for energy at a reduced cost. The extensive production of gas now occurring in the Marcellus Shale fields in Pennsylvania not only provides gas at a lower cost than other fuels now dominating our region’s economy, but also helps ensure a more reliable domestic supply.
Natural gas is an increasingly important part of America’s energy picture because it is cleaner than coal or oil. Natural gas serves as a bridge as we transition from fossil fuels to more alternative energy. U.S. carbon dioxide emissions hit an 18-year low in 2012 largely because the share of our electricity produced with natural gas grew from 20% to 30%, while the proportion produced by coal fell from 50% to 37%. In just over a decade, the share of U.S. natural gas production from shale gas – the type that would move through this pipeline – has jumped from 2% to more than 40%.
To be a leader in the 21st century economy, New Hampshire must secure stable, sustainable, and competitively priced sources of energy. The Constitution Pipeline, which would connect us with resources from the nearby Marcellus Shale fields, is the safest, cleanest and smartest option for our region. We should embrace this energy option, which would come at no additional cost to NH residents and consumers.
The Northeast should work as a region, and I have written to NY Governor Cuomo and urged him to support this much needed project. Natural gas is an essential part of our energy system. The Constitution Pipeline can bring the abundant supply of natural gas being produced in Pennsylvania to New Hampshire, New York and our neighboring New England states. We are counting on our neighbors in New York to approve this plan and help us address our energy needs.
(Lou D’Allesandro is a Democratic state Senator who is now in his ninth term serving District 20, which comprises Goffstown and Wards 3, 4, 10 and 11 in the City of Manchester. He has also been an Executive Councilor and a member of the state House of Representatives.)