On Thursday, June 21, NHJournal.com ran an article on environmental groups opposing any new natural gas pipeline projects. Patricia Martin of Echo Action, one of the groups featured in the article, offers this rebuttal.

 

Liberty Utilities has a petition before the PUC for approval of the Granite Bridge pipeline and LNG Storage tank project.  The numbers involved are important, so please suffer through the next three paragraphs to appreciate the size of the project.

Liberty has about 108,000 DTH/day of pipeline capacity (plus storage they can call on for another 47,000 DTH/day).  Granite Bridge will more than double their pipeline capacity by ADDING 150,000 DTH/day of pipeline capacity.

Liberty has approximately 120,000 DTH of supplemental peaking resources between LNG and LPG storage facilities.  Granite Bridge would increase that storage by a factor of 16 with the 2 BCF LNG liquefaction plant and storage tank.

On page 10, Line 6 of Liberty’s 2017 Annual Report, Liberty lists its Net Asset Balance as $408,740,272.  The Granite Bridge project has a rough estimate of $340 million which would be added to assets.  Is it reasonable, in the face of climate change, that Liberty is going to nearly DOUBLE its business over the next 20 years?

Granite Bridge is the “Merrimack Scrubber” all over again!  If it’s such a great idea, why don’t the shareholders fund it instead of ratepayers?

When PSNH first proposed the scrubber, it was a $250 million project to guarantee emissions compliance for the next 20 years.  To make a long story short, the final cost to ratepayers is about $500 million for a very expensive operation that only runs as a last resort.  Thanks to the auction settlement, 700,000 Eversource customers will pay it off in 20 years.

In the case of Granite Bridge, the opening bid of $340 million will be risked by 90,000 or so Liberty ratepayers and the return on equity (ROE) will go to shareholders.   Whether or not you believe in climate change or the environmental harms of fracking, the risk of public opposition to these projects increases the risk of stranded costs.  Moreover, clean energy alternatives, the electrification of cars, and availability of low temperature heat pumps, make natural gas less competitive as an alternative to oil in the longer run. 

When the scrubber was proposed, environmentalists urged the PUC not to allow such a large investment for a technology in decline.  Can they hear us now?

The Granite Bridge project has the endorsement of 22 of 24 NH Senators, the unions, and the Chambers of Commerce.

The Democratic Senators likely support it because they support the unions.  The Republican Senators likely support it because they support the Chambers.  As a bipartisan matter, Liberty is constructing it along Route 101, which meets the definition of an infrastructure corridor siting.  It would add 330 construction jobs which both parties like.

I’ve heard one Senator say that the project is needed because of the customer load added due to the shutdown of Concord Steam.  Liberty reports that additional demand as 2060 DTH/Day.  You don’t build a 150,000 DTH/Day pipeline to address 2060 DTH/Day of need.

Energy Efficiency is the lowest cost source of power.  Just investing $80 million would take all 10,000 low income homes off a waiting list for weatherization in New Hampshire and provide some estimated 120-person years of work for our building trades (24 hours of labor per home).  All $340 million would provide nearly 500-person years of work that would include inefficient housing that doesn’t qualify for fuel assistance.  Sounds like a better investment to me!

Changing the policy of the NHSAVES program to allow recommending low temperature, air source heat pumps to replace aging fossil fuel heating systems would also benefit ratepayers and the electrical trades.

The size of the Granite Bridge project is preposterous.  There is no other word for it.

Patricia Martin is Energy Policy Coordinator for Echo Action.

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