Consumers have been on an electric rates rollercoaster ride this past year. Many have been left reeling from a freezing winter and higher-than-usual electric rates. The good news is that rates will be dropping back down this summer for utility basic supply customers. National Grid’s rate decreased more than 40% as of May 1st (for MA customers). Eversource customers will likely experience similar decreases beginning July 1st. These summer rate drops will provide much needed relief, but what needs to be done to ensure this does not continue to happen in winters to come?
This heating season, not quite done, has been one for the record books. Huge amounts of snow, very cold weather, but also a big drop in oil prices compared to last year categorized the winter. And it’s been the best year for Mass Energy/People’s Power & Light Discount Heating Oil Service members in a long time. Compared to surveys conducted by the state energy offices in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, throughout this winter our members have paid 44 cents less than full-service dealer prices in Massachusetts and 35 cents less than full-service dealer prices in Rhode Island, after adjusting for heating degree days.
Beneath our feet is a vast network of natural gas distribution infrastructure. The aging pipes in Rhode Island and Massachusetts are among some of the oldest in the region and the nation, which means they are also some of the most leak-prone. We’ve known for some time that the methane (CH4) emitted through natural gas pipeline leaks contributes significantly to global warming. This is because methane is about 35 times more potent than carbon dioxide (C02), trapping a lot more heat in the atmosphere. However, a recent study reveals that natural gas distribution systems are leaking far more methane than previously estimated.
This revelation comes at a time when utility executives and several public officials continue to push for new pipelines, paid for by New England electricity ratepayers, to bring more natural gas into the region to burn in power plants. So, when public officials call for more natural gas, are they going to take commensurate counter measures to ensure that we can get on track to reducing emissions as called for in the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) and the Resilient Rhode Island Act (RRA): 80% by 2050?