New England power plants were forced to burn two billion gallons of oil over four days in early January when the bomb cyclone smacked the six states — vividly illustrating the need for additional natural gas pipelines, a FERC commissioner said last week.
Robert Powelson, who assumed his seat on the five-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last August, told an audience at Hart Energy’s Ninth Annual Marcellus-Utica Midstream Conference & Exhibition in Pittsburgh, New England is in the middle of a “market crisis.” (Kallanish Energy was in attendance at the conference.)
"The bomb cyclone wrecked havoc in New England,” said Powelson, a long-time member of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission before moving to FERC.
Powelson said the combination of a lack of sufficient lines to get needed natural gas to New England, coupled with the severe Arctic blast of the cyclone combined to give New England the dubious honor for a few days having the highest gas prices in the world.
“People were saying as early as 2014, ‘Houston, we have a problem,’” concerning the New England situation, according to the FERC commissioner.
In the last seven months, since FERC had a full complement of commissioners at the table, the commission has approved roughly $25.6 billion worth of pipeline infrastructure, he said – nothing in New England.
The FERC commissioner said the country is “dashing to gas”, and the result is fewer emissions and much cleaner air.
“From 2008 to 2016, there was a 32% reduction in the volume of NOX (nitrous oxides), SOX (sulphur oxides) and mercury emissions in PJM ( a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia) – the first time since 1970 the power sector has emitted less pollution than the transportation sector,” Powelson said.