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Energy chief bemoans region’s infrastructure

HARTFORD — The nation’s top energy official delivered a blunt message Monday to a Connecticut audience of energy executives, regulators, environmentalists, and others who already know that fuel heating and cooling homes and businesses and running power plants in New England is among the costliest in the nation.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, stopping in Providence and Hartford in a months-long federal review of energy issues, said New England doesn’t share the good news developing in the field of energy with the rest of the country.

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‘‘Out there, in much of the country, the talk is about the energy revolution, the abundance of energy that we have, the way that we are in fact drawing upon new resources . . . promoting renewables, at the same time reducing carbon emissions,’’ he said.

‘‘But yet if we come here, it’s not a discussion of abundance. It’s a discussion of, in particular, infrastructure constraints,’’ he said.

Speaking to an audience in Hartford, Moniz said that in New England, piping in natural gas and otherwise delivering heat or electricity is limited by a lack of delivery systems.

During the severe winter, natural gas prices soared to more than $120 per million British thermal units from about $5 in the summer. The spike was blamed on strong demand, a lack of pipeline systems, limited regional liquefied natural gas deliveries, and inadequate storage.

Moniz knows New England. A physicist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Moniz said even when fuel is available, it cannot be moved in emergencies because of power outages.

New England governors announced a plan in January to expand natural gas use. The governors asked the region’s grid operator for technical help to seek proposals to build transmission equipment and public works to deliver enough electricity to serve 1.2 million to 3.6 million homes. The states also asked the system operator, ISO-New England, to devise a way to finance the project.

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