On the evening of Tuesday, August 2nd People’s Power & Light testified at the Public Utilities Commission, on behalf of Rhode Island consumers and electric ratepayers, against National Grid’s proposal to recover costs from the proposed Access Northeast natural gas pipeline through an electricity ratepayer tariff.
People’s Power & Light expressed several reasons why the Commission should reject National Grid’s Request for Approval of a Gas Capacity Contract and Cost Recovery, Docket 4627, and instead seek alternative resources to meet the region’s energy demand during peak winter times, such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, storage, and demand response. We expressed disagreement with the unprecedented proposal that electric customers pay for additional natural gas infrastructure. Why should consumers take on the long-term risk of a new, unnecessary natural gas pipeline?
People’s Power & Light’s public and written comments:
As a pro-consumer and pro-environment nonprofit organization, we at People’s Power & Light encourage the Commission to reject National Grid’s Request for Approval of a Gas Capacity Contract and Cost Recovery.
The pipeline tax is an outdated approach that conflicts with the widespread sustainability efforts that Rhode Island is already implementing across sectors.
The 2014 Resilient RI Act sets specific greenhouse gas reduction targets at 80% by 2050, with interim targets of 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 45 percent by 2035. Energy planners have an obligation to implement policies and projects that keep Rhode Island on track to meet those goals. As the Ocean State, we are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change; building additional natural gas infrastructure sets us back in the wrong direction and will only serve to increase polluting emissions.
When more consumers learn that they could be on the hook for the pipeline expenses, we can expect to hear more voices of opposition. In our neighboring state Massachusetts, legislation was submitted to prohibit the imposition of a pipeline tax on electricity ratepayers; the measure passed the Senate and a strong majority of the House signed a letter expressing support for the prohibition. We anticipate that a similar measure would see success here in Rhode Island if put to a vote in the General Assembly. Local constituents want to see our state reduce fossil fuel consumption cost-effectively and diversify our local energy mix with more efficiency and renewable sources. A new natural gas pipeline puts the long-term risk on ratepayers who do not want the pipeline in the first place. A recent poll conducted by our sister organization Mass Energy Consumers Alliance demonstrated overwhelming support to ban ratepayer financing of the Access Northeast pipeline. By a margin of over two to one (70%-30%), participants preferred alternatives to natural gas pipelines.
We must protect electric customers from being charged for a natural gas pipeline. Thank you for your time and for the opportunity to submit comments.