Click here to download a PDF
Dear MIP&L members and friends,
Mass. Interfaith Power & Light has joined over 100 organizations from across New England to collectively urge the region's six governors to consider less costly and more environmentally friendly alternatives to a proposed massive new natural gas pipeline proposed across woodlands, conservation restrictions and private lands over a 120-mile stretch from the New York border to Dracut, Massachusetts.
Kinder Morgan, a subsidiary of the Tennessee Valley Gas Corp., is proposing to build the pipeline to meet energy needs during the coldest winter days, when homes compete with power plants for natural gas supplies. The six New England governors – as represented by the New England States Committee on Electricity, or NESCOE – have expressed their support for this pipeline, citing a study done by international energy company Black and Veatch.
However, that same study also stated that a "low demand scenario" – one in which increased energy efficiency, combined heat and power and other clean energy alternatives lessen demand for more natural gas – could obviate the need for the pipeline. Surprisingly, however, NESCOE has refused to model or analyze such a low-demand scenario, and is pushing for the new pipeline as its sole solution to the region's energy needs.
How did we find ourselves in such a situation? We rely on natural gas for about 47 percent of our electric generation in the region, and a great many people rely on gas for heating. Because all of that gas is imported, there were spikes in electricity costs during the coldest days of this past winter. However, the problem is not as bad as pipeline proponents, including ISO-New England, the regional electric grid operator would have us believe.
The claim is that the gas pipelines coming into this region are full, whereas the truth is that price spikes occur when we reach about 75 percent of pipeline capacity. That's because gas companies have firm contracts with their customers, but electric generators have interruptible contracts with their gas suppliers. The electric generators bid against each other when pipeline capacity hits 75 percent, driving up the prices for electricity. However, not all the gas included in those firm contracts is needed; in fact, the gas distribution companies often sell this excess "capacity" back to the generators and do so at a premium.
Moreover, Kinder Morgan has not been able to secure firm contracts for its proposed pipeline. Rather than question the economic viability of the project based on this failure the secure contracts, the governors have instead taken the unprecedented step of asking ISO-New England to request the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to impose a tariff on all electric ratepayers in New England to pay for Kinder Morgan's gas pipeline!
We need market reforms, not more pipelines. Such market reforms are part of a set of solutions that, when combined, could more than offset the need for the additional gas capacity being pushed by the pipeline proponents. In addition to market reforms, the clean energy alternatives that MIP&L and its allies are asking the governors to consider include:
Renewable Generation – An additional 3,000 MW of distributed renewable generation is likely to come on line by 2021, yet this important resource is not reflected in demand projections or analysis of costs and benefits associated with pipeline investments.
Renewable Thermal – Renewable heating technologies such as solar thermal, air- and ground- source heat pumps, and high efficiency, sustainably sourced biomass are capable of reducing consumption of natural gas and electricity for heating and hot water. Massachusetts is considering establishing a target to meet 5 percent of thermal load through renewable technologies by 2020, increasing to 26 percent by 2030. These opportunities could be lost if natural gas is given an unprecedented subsidy via the pipeline proposal.
Energy Efficiency – While energy efficiency has already saved consumers over $400 million in infrastructure upgrades, significant additional cost-effective potential exists for investment in both natural gas and electric efficiency
Combined Heat & Power (CHP) – Facilities that capture waste heat from electric generation can significantly reduce demand for electricity otherwise needed to produce heat. A study commissioned by the states identified over 6,400 MW of CHP potential that exists across the region.
Demand Response – Reducing power demand during peak periods can help to address our winter peak demands, yet demand response was only evaluated in relation to certain power plants.
What can we do? In addition to writing to Gov. Deval Patrick and demanding that a complete and thorough analysis of cleaner energy alternatives be given full consideration before committing to a massive new pipeline, our congressional delegation should weigh in. In particular, FERC needs to hear from our representatives in Washington that, based upon the request to balance the costs of this pipeline on the backs of electric ratepayers, the economics of this project simply don't add up, especially without a fuller accounting of alternative solutions.
Oil Heat Efficiency Bill & Net Metering Bill — A Two-fer?
The oil heat efficiency bill S. 2025/H. 2741 may be joined by amendment with H. 4185, a bill relative to net-metering sponsored by Rep. Frank Smizik. There is still work being done on the net metering bill to try to make it as agreeable as possible to all stakeholders – solar businesses, utilities, consumer and environmental advocates, etc. While these bills seek to address different needs, both would have important positive impacts for the state's economy, environment and public health.
Please support passage of legislation to create energy efficiency programs for people who heat with oil.
Please tell your state representative that you support the oil heat efficiency bill, S. 2025/H. 2741. To learn who your state rep is go to: https://malegislature.gov/
The state house telephone number is 617-722-2000
Speaking from the Heart about Climate Change — USA Today Profiles Interfaith Power & Light
The article, "Taking to the pulpit against climate change," features the work of Interfaith Power and Light and its 41 state affiliates to raise awareness about climate change in houses of worship across America. It profiles the growing religious movement to move the national conversation about climate change into the context of values by featuring Kansas IPL leader Rabbi Moti Rieber and national IPL founder Rev. Sally Bingham.
According to Yale climate scientist Anthony Leiserowitz the faithful are moving the climate change discussion beyond science and polar bears to "a whole different set of values. Not liberal vs. conservative, but now moral and religious ... It can engage people in ... a particularly deep and powerful way."
Join Mass. Interfaith Power & Light at the People's Climate March in NYC
on September 21st
In September, world leaders are coming to New York City for a UN summit on the climate crisis. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.
Mass. Interfaith Power & Light will be joining folks from around the country at the People's Climate March, on Sunday, September 21st to demand a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.
Read Bill McKibben's invitation to the march in Rolling Stone.
Sign up for the march here.
We're in the midst of an exciting sea change in which more and more faith communities are responding to the climate change crisis by lowering their carbon footprints, and raising their voices in the public discourse.
Please make a fully tax-deductible donation to Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light, by going to www.MIPandL.org and clicking on the Donate button on the upper right corner.
Peace and blessings,
Your friends at MIP&L