Breaking News: NESCOE Suspends Votes on Tariff Proposals

Shanna Cleveland

The New England States Committee on Electricity (“NESCOE”), an entity created to carry out the policy directives of the New England governors, had been hurtling down the track towards forcing electric customers to pay for a massive, new natural gas pipeline as well as new transmission projects to import large-scale Canadian hydropower. This morning at the monthly meeting of the voting participants in the New England Power Pool (“NEPOOL”), NESCOE signaled that the train is going to slow down.

In a surprising and welcome move, NESCOE announced at the meeting that it is delaying action on both the gas and electric proposals that it has been pursuing–proposals that have the potential to put billions of customer dollars at risk. NESCOE formally requested that all of the votes that had been scheduled for the proposals be taken off the calendar to allow for a delay of  “at least a month.”

For months now, CLF has been calling upon NESCOE and the New England Governors to bring these flawed proposals and the reasoning behind them out into the open. Until now, the formulation of and negotiations around these proposals have been conducted almost completely behind closed doors.  With this delay, NESCOE and the officials who direct its actions have a real opportunity to address procedural and substantive concerns — raised by CLF and other stakeholders —  by embracing a transparent, open process that includes a meaningful assessment of alternatives, including: efficiency, better utilization of existing infrastructure, and more renewable distributed generation. After all, the initial studies for NESCOE indicated that under a “low demand” scenario there would be no need for additional infrastructure at all.

This time around, CLF urges the Governors to require NESCOE to include an evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of all alternatives, as well as an assessment of which solutions are actually consistent with achieving the long-range energy and climate objectives of the New England states.

The NESCOE announcement also followed a compelling argument by CLF at the last Transmission Committee meeting on July 22, regarding the need for these proposals to be properly vetted through ISO-NE’s “Major Initiatives” process. These proposals carry with them the power to shape New England’s energy system for the next 40-50 years, so an open, public process is imperative. CLF will continue to provide the public with up-to-date information as it becomes available.

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9 Responses to “Breaking News: NESCOE Suspends Votes on Tariff Proposals”

  1. Nancy Wychorski

    Kudos to CLF and Rally on Boston Common and the many meetings questioning the safety and need for another Gas Pipeline in MA. I really hope this saves MA farms, homes and Conservation and Wetlands. MA does not need another Gas PIpeline. Much thanks to petitioners and especially Governor Deval Patrick – MA for seeing the reality delivered on a silver platter Wednesday, July 30, 2014 in Boston Governor’s Office.
    Thank you NESCOE.

    • Nancy Allen

      Thank you to CLF and Attorney Shanna Cleveland for all of your dedicated work and for being a voice for many citizens. And thanks to NESCOE for putting the brakes on so further analysis can be done openly, thoroughly. All a huge sign of listening and cooperation for the future of the commonwealth and next generations.

  2. Garrett Connelly

    The people have asked hard questions … What kind of economic system is it when the people are forced to invest in a secret central plan which benefits a private corporation on a scale that only a corporatist empire could dream up.

    Maybe the silver platter did do the trick. Keep the pressure focused, CLF, you’re the best.

  3. Pat Larson

    It looks like all the work by many people including CLF, people gathering in many towns to resist the pipeline and proposed tariff are finally being heard.. I am sure there is still much work to do. MA does not need another pipeline. We can solve our energy problems with energy conservation (use less), energy efficiency, by fixing the leaks and reforming some things about the way utilities get natural gas for electricity generation (should be with firm contracts and not be on the spot market).

  4. Eric B.

    Indeed we should applaud the people across Massachusetts and neighboring states who walked many miles of the proposed pipeline route to raise public awareness, sponsored local petitions and town meetings, and rallied together in Boston this week. I’m not sure we have NESCOE itself to thank, they take their marching orders from their sponsors in state governments, who seem to now have gotten the message that citizens are not keen to just let this massive fossil fuel infrastructure project happen (and pay for it, no less), we are instead going to demand an honest and open debate about whether it is necessary in the first place. So we have the many people who raised this collective voice to thank – and we also have CLF to thank for their steadfast and effective advocacy for a democratic and transparent process. But let’s be clear – this is only a pause, not any kind of turning point. We have to remain active and support CLF’s call above to “require NESCOE to include an evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of all alternatives, as well as an assessment of which solutions are actually consistent with achieving the long-range energy and climate objectives of the New England states.” This is EXACTLY what should happen next – but it won’t unless we keep up the public pressure on the politicians.

  5. Many thanks to Shanna Cleveland and CLF – you have continued to be at the forefront of this issue, and proactively addressing the things we can do to restart this process on our, the state’s, terms – rather than sitting back and hoping to defensively prevent pipelines after they have been permitted by FERC authority and funded by our dollars.

    Your expertise on the topic, and passion for the issue, have helped create real, positive change in Massachusetts. While the work is far from over, you deserve much praise and our thanks for all you have done so far.

    And thank you also to NESCOE, for doing what our state government was incapable of, or uninterested in, doing. Now the hard policy work can begin to determine the best next steps in our energy future.

  6. Living at the site of a purposed “compression station” for the pipeline , on rural Beldingville Rd., in Ashfield , MA , what encouraging news from NESCO !My children and grandchildren might still have the Bear River native brook trout to fish for and the peace and tranquility of our area preserved. Thank you CFL and all that have brought some hope that this project might be shelved!

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