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In the Media

Energy infrastructure eyed
METRO WEST DAILY NEWS - November 10, 2005
By Andrew J. Manuse

New England faces "major energy challenges" as soon as 2007, according to a report released yesterday by a coalition of energy providers, businesses and trade groups.

The report, called "New England Energy Infrastructure: Adequacy Assessment and Policy Review," said that within two years demand may exceed supply and delivery capacity for electricity and natural gas.

Analysis Group, a Boston consulting firm, prepared the report for a new coalition, the New England Energy Alliance, which will look at how government policy and action in the six-state region is affecting investments in new energy infrastructure, such as liquefied natural gas terminals, according to Carl Gustin, president of the Boston-based alliance.

"We are concerned about potential energy shortages and the impact on such shortages on the New England economy," Gustin said during a conference call yesterday.

The report said New England relies heavily on natural gas power plants, but lacks the pipelines and LNG terminals to supply natural gas to these plants. The report also said there was no "silver bullet" approach to solving the region's problems and that every form of energy production, including alternative methods such as wind farms, should be considered. The report also highlighted the need for more conservation efforts.

Susan Tierney, managing principal of the Analysis Group, said everyone seems to take for granted the energy infrastructure will be there when we need it, but we are approaching a time when it might not be.

She said 40-year licenses for some nuclear power plants were nearing their expiration date, and that renewing them could be problematic.

The alliance also hired Opinion Dynamics Corp. of Cambridge to conduct a voter survey in the six-state region. Only 15 percent of voters surveyed by the company acknowledged being "very well-informed" on the region's "electricity supply situation." The survey found that members of the alliance are facing "a challenge" in communicating how focusing on longer-range infrastructure and supply problems could resolve short-term cost issues.

Paul Fleming, manager of Wakefield-based Energy Security Analysis Inc.'s power and gas group, agreed the region's energy infrastructure faces challenges, after reviewing the report yesterday.

"Does the residential customer need to worry about energy supply in 2007 for electricity and natural gas? Not yet," he said. "Do I think the points in this report are well founded? Yes. The call for policy and other actions to address these actions are prudent."

Fleming said there are at least five liquefied natural gas terminals proposed in New England and he hoped "at least one or two of them" will go forward.

(Andrew J. Manuse can be reached at amanuse@cnc.com or 508-626-3964.)