Report: Natural gas price hikes pushed electric rates higher in 2013
Rising prices for natural gas delivered to New England pushed wholesale electricity prices in the region up by 55 percent over 2012, according to preliminary figures from ISO New England, the operator of the region’s wholesale electricity markets.
The 2013 annual average was the fifth-highest since 2003, when competitive markets in their current form were introduced in New England. The all-time high was $80 per mWh during 2008, just before hydrofracturing (or “fracking”) for shale gas in Pennsylvania and New York triggered the natural gas revolution.
Natural gas is the predominant fuel used to generate the region’s electricity — about 46 percent of total generation in 2013 — so wholesale power prices tend to track the price of natural gas, according to ISO spokeswoman Marcia Blomberg.
The crunch hit home in 2013, when the capacity of pipelines serving New England crashed under the increasing demand for natural gas to heat homes and businesses and to generate electricity.
“I am encouraged that there is interest from the private sector in increasing gas line capacity, and that’s certainly a factor we should consider,” she said. “It’s also really important that we do everything we can to make our energy prices more competitive with the rest of the country. That’s what I am hearing from businesses throughout the region.”
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