Energy: In New England, we pay 40% above U.S. average
From 2010 to 2012, energy prices in New England declined 6 percent, she said, but the region remains the highest-priced market for energy in the U.S.
In addition to discouraging business expansion or relocation to the region, high energy prices sap resources for consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of the economy, she said.
When energy spending goes up, that's less money for everything else, she said, especially with incomes stagnating as they have since 2008. The cost of electricity has been declining across the country as shale gas from Pennsylvania and Ohio flows into the vast transmission network that bypasses New England, with only five pipelines into the region.
More than 50 percent of the power plants that provide energy in New England are now fueled by natural gas, but the owners of those power plants do not want to commit to long-term contracts for the purchase of natural gas.
Anne George, vice president for external affairs at the independent system operator, ISO-New England, described steps the ISO is taking to encourage long-term contracts.
The six New England governors acknowledged as much on Dec. 6, when they signed the New England Governors Commitment to Regional Cooperation on Energy Infrastructure Issues.
Even if the governors are able to reach an agreement on "socializing" the costs of new pipeline, as Ford said, any new pipe in the ground is years away.
"The plan unveiled in early December commits the governors' combined political will to the task," wrote reporter Rod Kuckro, "but it remains to be seen whether the best of intentions can overcome market barriers, inadequate incentives and old-fashioned not-in-my-backyard sentiments that have bedeviled past efforts to build energy infrastructure in the six-state region."
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