US energy chief: New England energy issues vexing

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 21, 2014 at 5:49 pm •  Published: April 21, 2014
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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — 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.

Ernest Moniz, U.S. secretary of energy, stopping in Providence, R.I., 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.

"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 of about 150 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.

Energy prices in New England often are "very volatile and much higher than other parts of the country," Moniz said.

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, such as Superstorm Sandy in October and November 2012, because of power outages.