Boston, MA – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey yesterday announced that her office will lead a study of New England’s energy needs in order to evaluate options for cost-effectively meeting demand for electricity and natural gas while at the same time achieving necessary reductions in carbon pollution. The study will be completed by October, and the Attorney General’s office has called for restraint in certifying new pipeline capacity contracts until the results of the analysis are available.

“This important step by Attorney General Maura Healey reflects the changing nature of our energy system, where diverse clean energy resources can compete with fossil fuels.” said Daniel L. Sosland, Acadia Center President. “Massachusetts consumers deserve this full and fair analysis before they are called upon to pay for expensive new energy projects whose need has not been determined yet. Acadia Center has been calling for this sort of analysis for over a year, and we are glad to see true leadership from the Attorney General’s Office.”

In an analysis series recently published in Commonwealth Magazine, Acadia Center described how proposals to spend up to $8 billion in ratepayers funds on new pipelines could:

  • Cause billions in stranded expenditures if natural gas prices shift
  • Lead to large-scale natural gas exports, forcing New England to compete with buyers in more expensive markets and potentially causing regional gas prices to increase by up to 45%
  • Cause the region to exceed legally required carbon pollution reductions by over 100%

Acadia Center’s analysis series also describes how the performance of the regional energy system through last winter’s record cold demonstrates the logic of prioritizing low-risk steps such as utilizing liquefied natural (LNG) gas, tweaking energy market rules, and investing in energy efficiency. Additionally, prices for LNG and oil – both of which can substitute for gas during periods of peak winter demand – have tumbled over the last year, making prior economic justifications of expanding pipeline capacity obsolete.

“With billions of dollars and billions of tons of carbon pollution on the line, we have to get the analysis right,” said Peter Shattuck, Massachusetts Director for Acadia Center. “As an advocate for ratepayers, Maura Healey is ensuring that investments benefits consumers and minimize risks of tying us to an overpriced and outdated energy system.”