The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

The unneighborly policies keeping consumers in the dark (and cold)

Jessica  Lutz

Jessica Lutz
Posted June 6, 2018

For months, ISO New England CEO Gordon van Welie has had a consistent message: insufficient natural gas infrastructure continues to put the region’s customers at risk of service interruptions during periods of peak demand that often coincide with extreme weather conditions.

Speaking at the 2018 U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) Energy Conference this week, van Welie reiterated the findings of an ISO report released earlier this year which indicated a better than 80 percent chance that the region faces rolling blackouts in the near future – chiefly because of an inability to secure natural gas at times of peak demand.

New England’s recent cold weather period reinforced the findings of [ISO New England’s] operational fuel security analysis. We saw a rapid depletion of the region’s oil supply. Fuel delivery logistics became a concern: heating customers, of course, becomes the priority for oil and gas, but storms can delay trucked oil and tankers, truck drivers face restrictions on driving time.

So why, at a time when the United States is breaking records for natural gas production, are Americans put in jeopardy due to a lack of heat and electricity? Because anti-consumer government policies and extreme environmentalism in neighboring New York have blocked infrastructure projects that could bring more natural gas to the region.

Commissioner Neil Chatterjee of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was recently quoted while in New York:

The gravest threat we face to resilience and fuel security is in New England and that’s not the result of coal and nuke retirements but because of gas constraints due to a lack of adequate infrastructure … You can’t get there unless you go through New York.

New York generates more than 40% of its electricity using natural gas, and more than half of the state's residents heat their home with the fuel. But despite its abundance and affordability, NY Governor Cuomo has spent his entire term in office demonizing natural gas and working to obstruct the building of much-needed new pipeline capacity to bring natural gas from the Marcellus Shale into the state and neighboring New England.

While addressing fuel security concerns in his EIA session, Van Welie – for good reason – focused on the potential of natural gas. Gas-fueled power generation has unique attributes that enhance the reliability and resiliency of the power system, including the ability to quickly ramp up or down as needed and a track record of strong performance as a generating fuel during extreme cold.

Let’s not forget that the production of natural gas in the U.S. has also benefited consumers, spurred a domestic manufacturing renaissance and helped the U.S. lead the world in lowering carbon emissions.

The point has been made time and time again, but it’s worth repeating: it is entirely unacceptable that New England families are at risk because their region can’t access enough natural gas for heating and power generation, due to inadequate infrastructure. This certainly isn’t something you expect in a country that leads the world in natural gas and oil production.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica Lutz is a writer for the American Petroleum Institute. Jessica joined API after 10+ years leading the in-house marketing and communications for non-profits and trade associations. A Michigan native, Jessica graduated from The University of Michigan with degrees in Communications and Political Science. She resides in Washington, D.C., and spends most of her free time trying to keep up with her energetic Giant Schnauzer, Jackson.