CLF Statement on New England Governors’ and New England States Committee on Electricity’s Plan for New Transmission Lines and Natural Gas Pipeline Expansion

Jason Shemenski Jason Shemenski

Media contact:
Emily Dahl, edahl@clf.org, 978-394-3506

CLF Urges Governors to Adopt Transparent Process Going Forward

In response to a plan announced by the governors of the six New England states and the New England States Committee on Electricity to seek electric tariff changes to build transmission to facilitate new wind and hydropower, and increase natural gas pipeline capacity by nearly 20 percent in three years, CLF issued the following statement:

“It is encouraging to see the New England Governors recognizing the need to replace the old inefficient mainstays of our electric grid, coal-fired power plants,” said N. Jonathan Peress, VP and Director, Clean Energy and Climate Change at the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF). “However, the Governors’ announcement fails to clearly state whether they are engaging in a meaningful planning process to cost-effectively achieve the states’ legally mandated climate policies and act in electric customers’ best interests. It is time for the process to be made more transparent, with opportunities for public engagement—the hallmark of good public policy—rather than continuing the politically expedient closed-door meetings that have been taking place.”

“While New England clearly needs new transmission to facilitate deployment and use of renewable energy like wind power,” continued Peress, “This agreement raises concerns over whether the proposed upgrades would be consistent with the rapidly changing grid and states’ climate laws and policies. In particular there is a very real risk that the states will overbuild natural gas infrastructure that would ultimately not comply with these laws, increase our overreliance on natural gas, and potentially leave the public holding the bag for a bad bet. Additionally, ISO New England’s legally mandated role does not include funding new gas infrastructure and the states can not ask that federally regulated organization to step outside its designated power and role.”

Electric customers should have a chance to fully understand what they would be buying with these new charges—and benefit from an open process that ensures they are getting cost-effective energy that complies with existing laws.

CLF has previously expressed support for the New England Governors’ efforts to work collaboratively on solutions that would lead to a cleaner, more efficient, and climate-conscious energy system in the region. This collaboration has the potential to transform our energy mix for the better—but it will only succeed if state leaders prioritize renewable energy sources, like wind and solar power, and commit to a fair and transparent process that respects electric customers’ rights.

Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) protects New England’s environment for the benefit of all people. Using the law, science and the market, CLF creates solutions that preserve natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant economy region-wide. Founded in1966, CLF is a nonprofit, member-supported organization with offices in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

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