New England governors and policy staff met in Connecticut Thursday to discuss energy. The meeting didn’t produce any block-buster announcements, but in a joint statement the New England governors have pledged to work toward the goal of reducing the cost of energy.
There is less consensus, however on exactly how costs should be driven down.
Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are working together on a massive joint purchase of hydro-power and other renewable energy resources. Meanwhile Maine is weighing a plan to charge state electric rate-payers for new natural gas pipeline. Vermont says it's doing its part by considering the construction of a new DC power-line that would bring more Canadian hydro-power to New England.
Governor Hassan couldn’t attend the meeting but state energy officials – like Public Utilities Commissioner, Bob Scott – went in her stead.
“I do think the advantage of where we are right now, of looking at what’s best for each state, working collectively moving forward – I’ll call that synchronized swimming to some extent – that allows tailored responses for each state,” Scott said during a forum that preceded the governors’ private meeting.
Scott says the PUC is working with utilities to look for ways New Hampshire – using its existing authority – can reduce energy costs, while at the same time reviewing the utilities’ practices for purchasing energy every six months. He also notes his agency is considering ways to beef up energy efficiency programs in the state.
“We believe right now, higher energy prices means that the cost to benefit ratio, if you will, of energy efficiency is even greater,” said Scott.
The Governors’ joint statement notes the Granite State is a net exporter of energy, but the state may still be willing to host new energy infrastructure, but only if it meets siting requirements and doesn’t impact tourism.