Maine PUC Recommends Rejecting Pipeline Gamble with Consumer Dollars

Ben Tettlebaum

For two years, CLF has been fighting for the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to reject the natural gas industry’s ploy to keep the region addicted to natural gas by forcing consumers to pay for an unnecessary $1.5 billion pipeline. Now, the PUC’s own staff is recommending just that. Hot on the heels of the recent downfall of Kinder Morgan’s massive pet pipeline project, this is an important victory on the path to stopping the patchwork effort across New England to build a polluting pipeline on the backs of consumers.

In the report (called an Examiners’ Report) issued yesterday to the three PUC commissioners, PUC staff determined that no pipeline is in the best interests of Maine consumers. There is simply too much risk and too much uncertainty to justify subsidizing such a volatile and unprecedented 15- to 20-year gas contract.

The PUC’s own independent consultant found that under every likely scenario the costs of a gas contract far outweigh any benefits. Sensibly, the report recognizes the validity of the conclusions in this legally mandated, independent analysis – and not the analyses performed by pipeline proponents themselves. Staff also acknowledged that improvements in our energy markets are effectively addressing price concerns independently, eliminating the need for state intervention.

Enough time, resources, and money have been wasted on this two-year flirtation with the fossil fuel industry. For the health and well-being of communities across New England, it’s time to break off this relationship with our dirty past.

CLF strongly urges the PUC to become a true leader in the region and adopt the wise and reasoned recommendation of its own staff. Then, we can turn our attention to proven, low-risk investments, such as energy efficiency and renewables, that will truly move Maine and the region forward on the path to a clean energy future.

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