Natural gas shortage could lead to power outages during coldest months
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Connecticut and other New England states could be in trouble this winter when it comes to natural gas.
Joe Nolan, the CEO of Eversource, said a shortage of natural gas poses a serious health and safety threat.
Nolan sent a letter to President Joe Biden in which he said something needed to be done to avoid a shortage this winter.
In the letter, Nolan said rolling blackouts could be a solution that many customers might see.
While New England energy companies warned about rolling blackouts in the past, Nolan claimed this season might be different.
“I am just concerned that if we get a polar vortex or cold snap in the region, that will not be enough fuel for the electric generating units in the area to supply electricity for our customers,” he said.
He said Eversource has roughly 20 days’ worth of supply in tanks for emergencies. However, the war in Ukraine has impacted the company’s ability to get the extra supply of natural gas it would need in a weather crisis.
Nolan said he has been working to remedy the situation. He offered four proposals to Biden, including a waiver from the Jones Act.
“There is an awful lot of liquified natural gas that’s down in the gulf that we could access if we get relief from the Jones Act, which would allow a foreign flag vessel to go to the gulf and fill up and come to the northeast and deliver liquified natural gas, which right now we are not allowed to do,” Nolan said.
The Jones Act requires only American ships to deliver fuel to U.S. ports. The act could be waived like the administration did for Puerto Rico last month to ensure more diesel could get to hurricane victims.
Nolan said there aren’t enough United States ships to do the job.
“You can take some of the ships that previously sailed and unloaded their cargo in Europe, bring them back to gulf states, fill them up with liquid natural gas, and have them drop it off at ports in New England,” he said. “I think this will be the best immediate solution.”
Quinnipiac Prof. David Cadden said other proposals included invoking the Defense Production Act or declaring a severe natural gas shortage.
Cadden said he believes prices for customers could spike, so Eversource is getting ready.
“I think this a way for the CEO to try and provide some cover for himself, in the sense that we are going to see significant price rises for energy,” Cadden said.
Channel 3 reached out to ISO New England, another energy company, for comment but has not heard back.
It is scheduled to host a public board meeting on Tuesday at noon to discuss their winter operations.
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