The Grinch resides in New England

Utility companies in New England have been seeking rate increases alleging a shortage of pipeline capacity to bring natural gas to the area.

The utilities contend that unless they can increase the pipeline capacity for natural gas that fuels more than 50% of New England, there is not much they can do. The utilities also argue that increasing pipeline capacity will not only lower rates but will also create jobs.

Opponents of pipeline capacity expansion have concerns that range from issues of losing property to eminent domain, adversely impacting the landscape, increasing the dependence on fossil fuels, and realizing the reported problems of fracking.

Residents are starting to see the rate increases in their bills. The New England states (Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont) share an integrated electrical grid and are sharing the rate hikes.

The New England states pay the highest electricity rates of any of the country’s regions in the 48 contiguous states. This is because there aren’t any fossil fuels in the region and utilities have to import oil, gas and coal. Residential customers in New England paid an average retail price of 17.67 cents per kilowatt-hour this past September, whereas the national average was 4.73 cents less. These rate increases are of question given the falling prices of oil. This past week, oil dropped, pushing U.S. prices down to $55.91 per barrel. The price of oil is at its lowest level since May 2009. The price of natural gas is low and the supply abundant due to the underground shale reserves located in nearby Pennsylvania.

Connecticut’s rate of 19.74 cents per kilowatt-hour for September was the highest in the continental United States and double the rates of states including West Virginia and Louisiana.

Another reason being given by the utilities for higher rates is what’s known as the polar vortex. The cold blast experienced between December 2013 and February 2014 drove the wholesale price of power in New England to over $5 billion, which is almost the total cost for all of 2012. Another contributing factor may be the phasing out of coal and oil power plants.

According to the utilities, during peak demand, natural gas goes first to residential and business customers. Some power plants switch to using more expensive fuel such as oil. If a plant doesn’t have the capability to switch fuels it may go “offline” or use generators to make up the capacity.

While the legislators figure out a plan to develop alternative energy sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring dependability, incentives must be provided to expedite the creation of such options.

Some homeowners are using solar panels to reduce their dependence on electricity, buying high-efficiency appliances and checking the insulation of their homes. Homes heated by public gas are preferred over those heated by electricity, oil and propane gas. Existing homeowners may wish to have an energy audit done to see what, if any, areas of the home are causing excessive usage.

Happy Holidays!

Mary Ann Clark is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker at 189-191 Mason Street in Greenwich. Questions or comments may be emailed to [email protected]

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© Hersam Acorn. All rights reserved. The Greenwich Post, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress