Conservation group slams 'secret' work between governors, utilities
In addition to “shielding analysis of the plan from public scrutiny,” the environmental group maintains that the initiative is rife with conflicts of interest and is ignoring smaller, more affordable solutions.
“The governors’ initiative is premised on extensive influence, behind closed doors, from the very pipeline and utility companies that stand to earn billions if this plan is implemented,” according to Courchesne.
“They are now helping to define their roles as middlemen,” he said. “In fact, Northeast Utilities itself drafted the document the states and NESCOE are using to manage conflicts of interest when utilities buy power from their own transmission projects, like NU’s Northern Pass.”
“As for the governors’ interest in buying more Canadian hydropower by forcing customers to pay for new international power lines, the documents include recent analysis showing that hydropower doesn’t need long-term contracts or other help, and that it wasn’t even available to New England when we wanted it during the coldest days of last winter,” according to Courchesne. “However, the states and NESCOE appear to be disregarding these findings entirely.”
“As you know, energy constraints cost New England ratepayers an estimated $3 billion on their energy bills this winter,” he said. “The New England states continue to explore the most prudent ways to address those energy constraints, working with regional stakeholders, including consumer representatives and other interests, to ensure that new resources are brought to the region in a cost-effective manner.”
“This effort is not about reliability, as NESCOE would have us believe,” he said. “It’s about directing public money to large energy companies outside of public oversight.”
The CLF developed its analysis based on documents received from only two states, Maine and New Hampshire, according to Courchesne, who said the CLF is considering legal action to force compliance by the other states and NESCOE.
“Despite acting on behalf of state governments and receiving $2 million annually in public funding through our electricity bills, NESCOE claims that it is not subject to public records laws and is refusing to provide any documents to CLF,” wrote Courchesne. “Most of the New England states have not yet provided or are actively withholding their documents about the plan.”
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