There have been recent studies that point to liquefied natural gas (LNG) as being the solution to New England’s current energy infrastructure concerns, but relying on LNG will only ampfily our energy supply crisis.
There are two pipeline projects being proposed that would allow New England to obtain affordable domestic natural gas close to our region. We need access to at least two billion cubic feet a day of new capacity to address this crisis, and we can’t depend on LNG to close this gap.
During the coldest days of winter, our region needs approximately 5.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day for generation and heating. Our pipeline capacity currently allows for a maximum of 3.4 billion cubic feet per day. During those 100 days in which we don’t have enough pipeline capacity, there isn’t enough supply to operate our natural gas power plants, forcing us to rely on outdated and high-emission oil and coal plants. When this happens, electric prices spike and Massachusetts alone overpays for electricity by more than $1.5 billion annually.
Should we choose to believe LNG is the cure all to our energy problems, then we will only be exposing ourselves to a completely unreliable delivery infrastructure, the international dynamics of dependence on foreign suppliers, and local safety and security concerns related to transport and storage.
The massive LNG ships entering Boston Harbor are coming directly to us from a wildly unpredictable global market. This winter when we’re relying on that LNG, we’ll be bidding for it against China, Japan, Korea and northern Europe as they deal with their own winter energy challenges. LNG costs have tripled in the last three years and we would become increasingly exposed to the volatility of these global markets, with no control over whether our overpayment crisis gets even worse.
Even when LNG does successfully find its way to us from across the ocean, this is only the beginning of a complicated process that includes cooling methane to -258 degrees Fahrenheit, storage, refrigeration, transportation and regasification. We’re told that this will take place in dozens of massive storage tanks supplying a network of hundreds of trucks with thousands of transfer points and local storage units. Every one of these junctures presents an opportunity for an expensive system failure or a catastrophic security or safety risk. Is this really the kind of energy infrastructure we want our communities to rely on?
The idea that we already have the infrastructure and supply we need to address our energy crisis with LNG is an attractive one, but it is baseless and dangerous. By attempting to distract New England from its desperate need for new infrastructure, LNG advocates are only prolonging the social and economic pain being caused by our region’s unnecessarily high energy costs. It is time to accept the inadequacies of an LNG approach and development of the domestic natural gas pipelines that provide the real solution to our region’s needs.