YET ANOTHER PRO-GAS lobbying group forms, this time just as the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change prepares to release its omnibus energy bill. Prompting eye-rolls among clean energy advocates, the lobbying group has the audacity to call itself the “Massachusetts Coalition for Sustainable Energy” on its letterhead.
It would more aptly be called the Coalition for Gaslighting Massachusetts.
Looking for the group’s spokesperson Bill Evans on the Massachusetts lobbyist registry, ones finds a William Evans at Pilgrim Strategies, LLC. While the “Massachusetts Coalition for Sustainable Energy” appears to only exist on letterhead, it is worth noting that pipeline company Spectra Energy is on the Pilgrim Strategies “past and present” client list.
The “coalition” does not specify whether it will try to revive an electric ratepayer funding mechanism for new gas pipelines, but it clearly has a legislative mission.
We expected gas proponents to seize on the ISO New England fuel security analysis (and its fear-mongering slant) in order to push for more gas infrastructure. But policymakers need not make decisions based on gas lobbyists’ spin; a closer look at the ISO study itself is warranted. As luck would have it, a group of energy economists has carefully reviewed the ISO fuel security analysis and just released a short factsheet.
Synapse Energy Economics concludes that the ISO study’s pessimistically skewed presentation “provides faulty evidence to those who support unnecessary and costly gas pipeline projects.”
Even with its flaws, however, there are some important takeaways from the ISO fuel security analysis that deserve attention:
- The study does not analyze or comment on the probability of any of the (often dire) scenarios actually occurring.
- In fact, the analysis concludes that if we continue on the path that we are on, adding major renewable resources to the grid and using LNG at current levels during times of peak demand, no grid reliability issues are anticipated (and no new pipelines are needed).
- The study shows that problems are likely only if we continue to rely too heavily on burning gas, rather than diversifying the generation mix. Every scenario that included more renewables showed increased system reliability during critical winter months.
- During this period of grid transition, continued use of liquefied natural gas and existing dual-fuel capable power plants burning oil (only if necessary during the coldest hours of the winter) can prevent the waste of billions of ratepayer dollars on permanent gas infrastructure that would impede our transition away from reliance on fossil fuels to meet our energy needs.
From a legislative perspective, increasing the Renewable Portfolio Standard will help keep us on track to meet our clean energy needs, as will DPU reforms that require rigorous scrutiny of gas infrastructure proposals (and the contracts that enable them), along with serious analysis of impacts and alternatives.
Beware gas industry front groups posing as sustainability advocates; the only thing they are trying to sustain is their industry.
Kathryn R. Eiseman is the director of the Massachusetts Pipeline Awareness Network and president of the Pipeline Awareness Network for the Northeast Inc.