Gordon van Welie, president of ISO New England, is sounding the alarm on New England’s increased reliance on natural gas (“N.E. grid leader cites dependence on natural gas,” Business, March 20). But is the solution really as simple as building more pipeline to carry more gas?
The increased use of natural gas for electricity, driven by historically low gas prices and decreased electric demand, has been pushing old, outdated coal and oil power plants into retirement. This overdue technology turnover should be viewed as a welcome opportunity for New England to show the rest of the nation how to build a cleaner, more resilient grid.
Instead, ISO New England seems determined to rely on old fixes, such as new pipelines, rather than focusing on the potential for solving the problem through increased efficiency and better harmonization of the gas market into the electricity market. In a recent study, the Conservation Law Foundation showed that Massachusetts is actually losing more gas through leaks in existing distribution pipelines than we are saving through efficiency programs.
Before we jump to conclusions that involve massive ratepayer investment, we should be taking a hard look at the whole system, both gas and electric, to make sure that we maximize our existing infrastructure and supply.