Urges DOE to be “federal quarterback” in federal-state process
WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) pressed Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz to use his department as a “federal quarterback” to help coordinate federal and state efforts to expand natural gas pipeline throughout New England.
“This is an infrastructure problem and it’s absolutely urgent for our region. We went into natural gas in a big way, as you know, starting in about the year 2000 – now 50 to 60 percent of our electricity comes from natural gas. A lot of people, like myself, switched to natural gas to heat our homes and the winter before last we had the highest natural gas prices in the world,” Senator King said to Secretary Moniz. “I just hope the Department can be aggressive and forward-leaning in helping the Governors, the [Congressional] delegations, the utilities to solve this problem. It’s a pipeline problem, not a gas problem, as you know. And I think it’s going to take an all-of-the-above kind of strategy in terms of permitting. It’s a really urgent problem for the region…And this is a problem of our system – it’s either federal or state, we don’t have regional entities, and I think this is a case where we’re not asking for federal intervention but we’re asking for a federal quarterback.”
To watch Senator King’s remarks, click HERE.
In his response, Secretary Moniz confirmed that the Department of Energy would be happy to assist and mentioned that there are ongoing discussions to move natural gas from the Marcellus Shale through New England via new pipelines, which should help partially alleviate the problem. Senator King then noted that there are also discussions to reverse the Maritimes and Northeast pipeline, which runs from Massachusetts through Eastern Maine to Canada, in an effort to export natural gas. He urged Secretary Moniz to allow for some of that gas to be retained within the region during times of peak demand before being exported.
“I would hope that you would consider as that project moves forward inserting a requirement that that gas be divertible during times of peak demand – rather than going to Canada, that there be a provision that during peak demand it be retained in the region,” Senator King said.
Senator King also spoke in favor of distributed generation – the concept that energy resources, particularly renewable energy sources like solar, can generate electricity independently of the electrical grid and then feed excess energy back to the grid.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today held a hearing on the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), which is a policy roadmap developed by the Department of Energy to provide analysis on the nation’s energy needs. The Department recently released the first of its installments, focusing on energy transmission, storage and distribution of America’s energy systems.