Tackling New England’s Energy Challenges: NEC Regional Energy Forum
On June 30, 2014, The New England Council and The New Hampshire Institute of Politics will host a Regional Energy Forum on New England’s Energy Challenges. The forum will be held at The New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anslem College in Manchester, NH. The program will run from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and lunch will be provided.
The New England region faces a unique set of energy challenges, from high electricity prices, to a lack of native energy resources, to insufficient pipeline and transmission infrastructure.
As public and private stakeholders in New England work to address these challenges, the forum will feature an interactive conversation with key leaders from throughout the region to discuss the short-term and long-term solutions to meet the region’s energy needs. This forum will allow attendees to engage with those involved in the states’ efforts through questions and further discussion.
Gordon Van Welie, President & CEO of ISO New England, will give keynote remarks providing an overview of the region’s current energy situation and the challenges the New England states face in the coming months and years. Following van Welie’s remarks, a panel of senior energy officials will discuss the short-term and long-term solutions to these challenges. Panelists confirmed to date include:
Katie Dykes, Deputy Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection
Birud Jhaveri, Deputy Commissioner, Energy Policy & Assurance, Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources
Chris Recchia, Commissioner,Vermont Public Service Department
Robert R. Scott, Commissioner, New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission
Nicholas S. Ucci, Chief of Staff, Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources
Patrick C. Woodcock, Director, Maine Governor’s Energy Office
Thanks to the generous support of The New Hampshire Institute of Politics, there is no cost to attend the forum, but registration is required. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.
Recent Committee Work
Renomination of FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur
In June 2014, FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur’s term as a FERC Commissioner expires. Acting Chairman LaFleur was first appointed by President Barack Obama in 2010, and confirmed by the Senate in July of that year. A Massachusetts native, she is currently the lone FERC Commissioner who hails from east of the Mississippi River, and therefore the only member of the panel with a deep understanding of the New England region’s unique energy challenges. Prior to joining FERC, Acting Chairman LaFleur had more than 20 years’ experience as a leader in the electric and natural gas industry. She served as executive vice president and acting CEO of National Grid USA, responsible for the delivery of electricity to 3.4 million customers in the Northeast.
The New England Council wrote to President Obama in April 2014 urging him to re-nominate Acting Chairman LaFleur to the panel for a second year term as Commissioner. In its letter, the Council stressed her extensive experience in the energy industry in New England and her record of support for policies and regulation that promote economic growth in the region.
In addition to The New England Council, many members of the New England Congressional delegation also expressed their support for Commissioner LaFleur’s re-nomination. Led by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), seven New England Senators signed on to a March 2014 letter to the President. In April 2014, a group of 13 New England House members, led by Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-MA), sent a similar letter to President Obama supporting LaFleur’s nomination to a second term.
In May 2014, President Obama nominated Commissioner LaFleur to a second term on FERC, and later that month, the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to consider her nomination. Prior to the hearing, the NEC wrote to Senator Mary Landrieu, the Committee Chair, and Senator Lisa Murkowski, the Committee’s Ranking Member, expressing its support for LaFleur’s confirmation.
In 2014, natural gas represents 30 percent of the primary energy used in New England, with some 2.6 million customers. The region is also one of the most natural gas dependent areas in the United States for electric power generation, with natural gas used to produce 52 percent of its electric power in 2011. Although a substantial amount of production occurs fairly close to New England, there are no indigenous sources, making the region dependent on pipelines to deliver it. Unfortunately, there is not currently sufficient pipeline capacity to meet with the growing demand in the region.
NEC member Spectra Energy has proposed a pipeline expansion project that would help address the shortage of pipeline capacity in New England. The Algonquin Incremental Market (“AIM”) Project will provide New England with a domestically produced source of natural gas to support both its current and future demand. It is an infrastructure investment that expands the pipeline capacity of the existing Algonquin Gas Transmission system, and will allow for the transport of gas produced in the Marcellus shale formation into the Northeast, helping to meet the increasing demand while lowering energy costs.
In March 2014, The New England Council submitted formal comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which must approve the AIM Project. It it’s letter, the Council outlined the demand for natural gas in New England and the many economic benefits of expanded pipeline capacity. Accordingly, the Council urged FERC to approve the project.
In spring 2013,the New England Council endorsed comprehensive bipartisan energy efficiency legislation reintroduced in the Senate by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH). The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S. 761) would create a national strategy to increase the use of energy efficiency technologies through a national model building energy code; create a financing program for commercial building energy efficiency projects; promote the development of energy efficient supply-chains for companies; and require the federal government to adopt and implement energy saving policies and programs. The bill was quickly approved by the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, and by late May 2013, was poised to be introduced on the Senate floor.
The bill is designed to be deficit-neutral. According to Senator Shaheen, an analysis of similar legislation considered last year would have netted energy savings for consumers of “$4 billion by 2020 and helped businesses add 80,000 jobs to the economy.”
Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill. Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and David McKinley (R-WV) have introduced a companion measure (H.R. 1616) to the Shaheen-Portman bill in the House of Representatives.
In a letter to the New England Senate delegation in May 2013, the Council noted that the bill would not only promote greater efficiency, but it would also help lower energy costs and create jobs. The Council urged New England Senators to support the bill.