In a historic statement, the six New England Governors today committed their states to an unprecedented level of regional cooperation to develop an energy agenda designed to bring more affordable, cleaner, and reliable power to homes and businesses across the northeast.
The statement, entitled the "New England Governors' Commitment to Regional Cooperation on Energy Infrastructure," says, "To ensure a reliable, affordable and diverse energy system, we need investments in additional energy efficiency, renewable generation, natural gas pipelines, and electric transmission .New England ratepayers can benefit if the states collaborate to advance our common goals."
"The Governors therefore commit," the statement said, "to continue to work together, in coordination with ISO-New England and through the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE), to advance a regional energy infrastructure initiative that diversifies our energy supply portfolio while ensuring that the benefits and costs of transmission and pipeline investments are shared appropriately among the New England States.
The statement calls attention to the fact that the region's electric and natural gas systems have become "increasingly interdependent," creating a need for cooperative investments in energy efficiency, new and existing renewable generation, natural gas pipelines, and electric transmission. In addition to bringing greater supplies and lower costs for electricity and natural gas, regional cooperation will also "protect our quality of life and environment," the Governors said, by resulting in increased economic development, competitiveness and job growth, and improved air quality through a reduction in harmful air emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.
The Governors' statement also noted that, "…we must respect individual state perspectives, particularly those of host states, as well as the natural resources, environment, and economy of the States, and ensure that the citizens and other stakeholders of our region, including the New England Power Pool (NEPOOL), are involved in the process.
The Governors directed leaders of their energy and environmental agencies to continue working together over the next few months -- in cooperation with NESCOE -- to develop a multi-state strategy that "meets our common needs and goals."
Governors Dannel P. Malloy, Connecticut; Paul R. LePage, Maine; Deval L. Patrick, Massachusetts; Maggie Hassan, New Hampshire; Lincoln D. Chafee, Rhode Island; and Peter Shumlin, Vermont, signed the agreement for the Regional Energy Infrastructure Initiative.
Comments from the Governors:
"New England's energy costs are not competitive," said Governor LePage, Maine. Our high energy prices drain family budgets and are a significant barrier to attracting business investment, especially in energy-intensive industries. At the same time, we are geographically positioned to take advantage of competitively priced natural gas and hydropower resources if we collectively invest in key infrastructure. This energy infrastructure initiative can bring these world-class resources to start powering New England industry and start saving money for families across our states."
"We have seized on every available opportunity to bring down the cost of electricity, heat, and power for our families and businesses," said Governor Malloy, Connecticut. "We have enjoyed some success but energy prices here are still higher here than in other parts of the country because of severe constraints on the flow of electricity and natural gas into our state. By working closely with New England neighbors who face similar challenges we can thoughtfully plan and develop the network of electric transmission lines and natural gas pipeline needed to meet our goal of providing cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable power for Connecticut.
"This is an economically and environmentally important collaboration," said Governor Patrick, Massachusetts. "By expanding opportunities for large-scale hydro, wind and other renewable energy sources, we are putting thousands of our residents to work and creating a healthier region for the next generation."
"I am pleased to join with our neighboring states to advance this energy infrastructure initiative which will position Rhode Island to take advantage of cleaner and more affordable energy," said Governor Chafee, Rhode Island. Through this collaborative effort the New England states will pursue a diversified energy portfolio, with the infrastructure needed to support it that will bring long-term environmental and economic benefits to Rhode Island residents and businesses alike. As part of that strategy, I remain committed to the advancement of clean, affordable hydropower, as well as other renewable resources that can improve electric reliability, stabilize and lower long-term energy costs, and help reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions."
"Building on the work we started two years ago to coordinate procurement of power in the region, I am pleased that the states today agree to work together on infrastructure improvements to ensure we make New England power more reliable, and more cost competitive," said Governor Shumlin, Vermont. "Coordinating electric and gas transmission in the region will put downward pressure on power rates into the future, and ensure any infrastructure built is both needed and cost effective for Vermonters and all New England consumers."