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Another View -- Patricia Martin: BIA is looking backwards in backing Granite Bridge

August 15. 2018 10:10PM

BIA CHAIRMAN Tom Sullivan claims that anyone opposing the Granite Bridge project, “By being an automatic ‘no,’ they forfeit the right to be a legitimate voice on energy policy in New Hampshire.”

Let’s look at his arguments in support of Granite Bridge.

“New Hampshire’s electricity costs are consistently 50 to 60 percent higher than the national average year-round — not just in the grips of a frigid winter or sweltering summer.” What does this have to do with Granite Bridge if it’s supposed to be a project built at Liberty gas ratepayer expense?

A 2017 study by a legislative task force found the reason our electricity prices are so high is because of high transmission, distribution, and forward capacity payments. Our wholesale electricity rates are at historic lows. Pipelines can only help with wholesale prices.

The ISO-NE “rolling black-out” scenarios are based on very extreme and unlikely conditions for most of the cases analyzed. And, again, this is a concern for the electric power generators, not Liberty gas customers.

Buried four feet underground and built in an infrastructure corridor, we won’t even know it’s there. This is probably true. We probably didn’t notice that the Liberty distribution system had lost or unaccounted for gas at 2.2 percent of the total volume in 2017 either. Liberty ratepayers paid an extra $2.4 million to cover the cost of that lost gas. Methane leaking at that rate negates any environmental benefit of fuel switching from oil.

In arguing for the LNG tank, Sullivan states, “This will not only save families and businesses money on their bills, it will also free up natural gas capacity for power generation, putting downward pressure on electric bills.” Again, why are Liberty gas customers paying for this infrastructure if it benefits power generators?

Sullivan notes, “The region was so desperate for oil it imported it from Russian companies sanctioned by the U.S. government, companies that obtain their supplies by drilling through the permafrost in the Arctic Ocean.”

In fact, it was imported LNG, not oil. There was plenty of domestic LNG (the U.S. was exporting it), but because of the Jones Act, New England couldn’t dock ships from our own ports.

I’ve noticed that people keep talking about this project as if it is “much smaller” than the Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline. That’s not the case at all.

New Hampshire’s portion of the NED’s 1.2 million dekatherm per day (DTH/d) pipeline capacity was about 10 percent, or 115,000 DTH/d. Granite Bridge would add 150,000 DTH/d of capacity.

The price for the NED was estimated at $3 to $4 billion in total. Granite Bridge has an estimate of $340 million, or about the same 10 percent that New Hampshire ratepayers would have paid for NED.

Why does the BIA keep looking in the rear-view mirror when it comes to New Hampshire’s energy economy?

Patricia Martin is a member of Pipe Line Awareness Network for the North East (PLAN-NE) that opposes the Northeast Energy Direct, Access Northeast, and Granite Bridge pipeline projects.

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