IN THE MIDST OF one of the most severe polar vortexes in over two decades, schools across the Midwest last week resorted to closing, businesses shuttered and forecasters even warned those who had to leave their homes to ‘minimize talking’ outdoors.
With many across the Northeast and Midwest prepared to remain in the comfort of their warm homes throughout this cold spell and others this season — frigid weather conditions serve as a reminder of just how important reliable energy and accessible fuel is to our survival.
Two weeks ago, the State of Rhode Island declared a state of emergency after more than 7,000 of its residents were without gas to heat their homes as a result of a low transmission supply issue — a problem that may not have occurred if the region had a more robust energy infrastructure network. The utility operator reported cold temperatures caused “significantly higher demand” for gas on the route, “which resulted in a disruption in service to a number of natural gas customers…”
Nearly half of the Northeast’s power derives from oil and natural gas, which can be safely and efficiently transported by pipeline.
But due to the political crusade against new energy infrastructure spearheaded by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, consumers have had to pay the price.
Considering the lack of infrastructure in the region, it comes as no surprise that homeowners here in New Hampshire, as well as in neighboring Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine, are subject to some of the highest costs when it comes to heating their homes in the winter.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Northeastern families paid $263 more for electric heating and an additional $179 for natural gas than the national average during the winter of 2017-18.
Even worse, EIA predicts household heating costs, particularly heating oil, could rise by as much as 33 percent if this winter is colder than last year.
To make matters worse, last winter, New England states resorted to importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Russia to heat their homes, due largely to a lack of pipeline capacity. Around the same time, the Boston metro area had the highest natural gas prices in the industrialized world, despite the U.S. role as the world’s largest producer.
Thankfully, with proper investment in our energy grid and infrastructure network, we can meet the needs of consumers across the country. But it’s clear the current policies in place in throughout New England do not put consumers first. Rather, these policies seek to serve partisan agendas.
It’s time for the region’s policymakers to set aside ideological differences and focus on what’s best for Northeasterners.
In order to best serve its residents, New Hampshire and surrounding states must end the opposition to safe, reliable infrastructure by welcoming investment in energy development, streamlining regulations and cutting red tape.