Leader Herald Staff
The CEO of Eversource, Everett’s major electric transmission company, and the owner of electric switchyards here, said in a letter to President Joe Biden that he needed to invoke emergency powers to maintain the smooth transmission of energy during the coming winter season.
Eversource President & CEO Joseph Nolan is “deeply concerned,” and is asking President Biden to take steps now that would help New
England handle the anticipated power issues during a potentially prolonged period of severe cold this winter.”ISO-New England, the region’s electricity grid operator, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have acknowledged for months that New England will not have sufficient natural gas to meet power supply needs for the region in the event of a severe cold spell this winter. This represents a serious public health and safety threat,” Nolan wrote in the letter.
Nolan said that imported liquid natural gas usually brought into a facility in Everett, Massachusetts, will not be available because of the possible stress on European markets.
“I ask that you direct the Secretary of Energy to convene all relevant parties to develop a plan to ensure the region is ready to meet the challenges one or more extreme winter weather events would present,” Nolan wrote.
In anticipation of higher prices they’ll pay for natural gas, rate hikes were applied for and approved by the Public Utilities Commission. Eversource customers will pay 22 cents per kilowat, along with Liberty. Unitil customers will pay 22 cents, and NH Electric Co-op 17 cents.
If the weather makes it necessary, Nolan asked the president to use the emergency powers at his disposal to make sure the region has enough fuel resources.
Unitil spokesman Alec O’Meara said that his company shares many of the concerns raised by Nolan. However, it’s not the first time concerns about the ability to provide power this winter has been raised.
“Our stance continues to be that the energy crisis our region is facing due to natural gas pipeline capacity issues is real, and that solutions are needed,” O’Meara told Seacoast Current.
Unitil, Eversource, and other New England utilities participated in a tabletop exercise earlier in October about how they would communicate and work together in the event of a winter energy shortage.
“While this type of emergency is unlikely, it would be profoundly impactful and close coordination between all involved entities is para- mount,” Peter Brandien, ISO New England’s vice president of system operations and market administration said in a statement. “Through exercises like this tabletop, ISO New England and the region’s utilities can work together to better understand how to best respond if these conditions materialize.”
Encouraging Signs for now.
The good news is that Europe’s natural gas stocks are nearly full, which has driven prices lower to 4 month lows, according to a CNBC report.
Analysts warn that Asian demand could change all that as they seek supply from shrink- ing inventories because of a lack of gas from Russia. A boycott of Russian oil by European counties that begins in December will also im- pact prices and supply.