Dear Mr. Van Welie,
As you are undoubtedly aware, the momentum of the grassroots opposition to the Tennessee Gas Northeast Energy Direct pipeline proposal is building. Homeowner and conservation land trust coalitions comprised of commonwealth of Massachusetts electricity ratepayers have come together to educate themselves about the weaknesses in the case for "need," the intent to export, and the lack of firm capacity commitments by the electricity generators and local distribution companies.
Created and authorized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, ISO New England operates under the New England Inc. Transmission, Markets, and Services Tariff. In other words, you work for us, the electricity ratepayer. As a ratepayer, I am writing to tell you that your unabashed advocacy for this plan whose purpose, by your very own words, is "to use public money to OVERBUILD gas pipeline infrastructure," is both irresponsible and egregious.
Conservation Law Foundation has suggested that, in 2013-14, you attempted to manipulate market pricing signals by excluding LNG from participating during peak-shaving times, concerned that reduced opportunity costs during a time of high gas demand would lower gas prices and send an undesirable signal about the scarcity of natural gas. The desired result was achieved ... price spikes in natural gas and electricity during brief periods of high demand in December 2013.
I think you can do better. Consider the case of Germany. A country with twice the geographical area, and yet two thirds the GDP per capita of New England, Germany has proven to be a world leader in the development of renewable energy, 37,000 MW of solar photovoltaic energy alone as of July 2014. At the same time, Massachusetts trumpets its goal of just 1,600 MW of solar electricity by the year 2020. If New England's electricity supply is at such grave risk, how can you stand by and allow administrative impediments such as the net metering cap preclude a more aggressive integration of distributed solar into the grid? With tactical opportunities such as the accelerated incorporation of renewables, and strategic proposals such as the improved synchronization of gas and electricity markets, it seems to us, the ratepayers, that you have not exhausted all other possibilities to solve this problem. You owe it to us, who pay your salary through the tariff applied to our utility bill, and from whom you will ultimately seek an eminent domain taking to build this pipeline, to do better.
I conclude, Mr. Van Welie, by challenging you, and all ISO NE board members, to do your job, as difficult as it may be. Embrace a plan of action that balances demand with environmental impact, health, and human safety, whether you are statutorily required to do so or not. Please treat this challenge as if your own neighborhood, your own home, and your own child's health and safety depends directly on the outcome. Because ours does, and we would do the same for you if the roles were reversed.
Dr. Vincent E. Premus