If you take the CEO of Eversource’s word for it, then it may be a dangerously hard winter this year in New England.
“As both an energy company CEO and a lifelong New Englander, I am deeply concerned about the potentially severe impact a winter energy shortfall would have on the people and businesses of this region,” Eversource CEO Joseph Nolan wrote to President Joe Biden last week.
According to Nolan, the New England region simply does not have enough natural gas supply to meet energy needs in the event of a “severe cold spell” this winter.
“This represents a serious public health and safety threat. Consumers in New England are already experiencing skyrocketing electricity and gas costs given supply constraints and global price pressures following the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” he said.
About half of New England’s electric generation is powered by natural gas or liquid natural gas, commodities that are sold on the global market and subject to its whims.
In September, Massachusetts energy officials put residents on notice that the cost of heating their homes and keeping the lights on is likely to skyrocket this winter as the price of natural gas soars, potentially more than 60%.
“This winter will be, at best, a very high-cost energy winter,” Judy Chang, undersecretary of energy and climate solutions in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs said then.
It could be worse than just high costs, though, Nolan wrote: the state could be facing a genuine emergency, caused in large part by the war in Europe.
“I respectfully urge you, Mr. President, to employ the emergency powers of the federal government to take all steps to ensure that adequate fuel resources will be available in the event of severe weather conditions in New England this winter,” Nolan wrote. “Because of the war in Ukraine, imported LNG is not available to the New England region in the volumes necessary to meet this winter’s needs without causing further stress on European markets and the American economy.”
The Biden Administration did not return a request for comment on the situation. A spokesperson for Eversource did not respond when asked whether the company had heard any response from the President or his staff.
According to Nolan, Biden needs to act now.
“To avert the potential loss of power to New England this winter, I ask you to direct the Secretary of Energy to convene all relevant parties to develop a plan to ensure the region is ready to meet the challenges one or more extreme winter weather events would present, using both the authorities available to the market participants and the federal government’s emergency authorities,” he wrote.
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