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Power prices — and long-term costs


By investing in energy efficiency, we lower costs for all

Your July 13 editorial, with the original print headline “Mass. stumbles into higher power bills . . . ,” was corrected subsequently by changing the reference to say that the state’s residents pay the highest retail price for power, not the highest electric bills.

This is not a trivial change. Though prices may be high in a given month, bills can still be low. For example, in 2016, the last full year for which data are available, Massachusetts’ residential bills were far from the highest; they were the 28th lowest.

By investing heavily in energy efficiency, which lowers the cost for all, we have kept our electric bills at about average for the United States. A comparable state like Connecticut, which did not invest in energy efficiency, has extremely high prices and the third-highest bills in the country.


Moreover, New England does not need more pipelines, and if built, they would not lower prices.

Just last week, Joe Kelliher, a Republican former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, testified that the reason two proposed New England pipelines are not being built is because of insufficient market demand. A vice president at Kinder Morgan, a potential pipeline builder, agreed with this assessment, stating that Kinder Morgan only secured about half of the pipeline capacity contracts it needed to finance the project.

Berl Hartman


The writer is a founding director of the New England chapter of Environmental Entrepreneurs.

Focus on using less energy in the first place

We have two opposing groups arguing about the way we should produce the electricity we use.

One side wants to continue with fossil fuels. The long-term consequences to the environment here are well documented.

The other wants us to (eventually) get all our power from renewables. Creating all that infrastructure is not anywhere as “green” as they’d have you believe. Plus renewables’ ability ever to provide the power we now use is doubtful, to put it kindly.


Sadly, while we argue about the way we get all that power, we hardly ever mention the way we use the power available to us. The right way is to use a lot less of it.

What if, at night, we turned off virtually all those lights in all those office towers burning away for no reason? Drive by any mall after closing and you’d think every store was open.

It seems many private homes now have more interior and exterior lighting than Paris.

Light pollution is the easiest pollution to eliminate. The flip of a switch does it.

If we really wanted to, we could cut way back on the amount of electricity that needs to be generated, regardless of the power source.

Instead of searching for ways to continue with business as usual, let’s think about a better way altogether.

Rick Cutler


Pushing for pipelines ignores the threat of greenhouse gas

Continuing to press for new natural gas pipelines that will lock in a high level of dependence on fossil fuel for decades to come, Globe editorial writers display either disregard or ignorance about the dangers of methane as a highly potent greenhouse gas. No, pipelines are not “embraced as a convenient environmental bogeyman.” Please stop relying on straw man arguments, and instead confront the reality that research shows extremely high levels of methane leaks from production to distribution.

The real problem here is that our state’s top leaders — in particular, Mr. Popularity, Governor Charlie Baker — have utterly failed to push forward with a rapid transition to clean power production. And this failure prevails in a state where our major business, educational, and scientific center faces a severe threat from rising seas.


Ben Lieberman


EPA gives coal a jolt of new life, to our peril

We need only look at the National Climate Assessment issued by this White House in November 2017 to understand the impact of the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest move to essentially give life support to the dirtiest of fossil fuels, the coal industry (“Effort to roll back Obama climate plan advances,” Business, July 11). Throughout the NCA report, two scenarios are presented: What will happen if emissions are rapidly reduced, and what will happen if we continue on our current path of emissions increases. In the current path scenario, the report says, “The hottest days are those so hot they occur only once in 20 years. Across most of the continental” United States, those days will be about 10 degrees to 15 degrees hotter in the future.

Now think about how hot it was in Boston last week. Our high temperatures averaged a mere 88 degrees; the scenario set out in the report would bring those temperatures to an average of 98 to 113 degrees.

Our current fossil fuel path means certain peril.

Debora Hoffman