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BOSTON — Preliminary results of a study being conducted by Synapse Energy Economics on behalf of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) indicate that increasing natural gas supplies to the Commonwealth would not meet Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) targets for gas heating and electric generation, and would jeopardize the state’s ability to meet its overall emission reduction commitments.

According to an administration spokesperson, the release of the Massachusetts Low Demand Analysis has been postponed until next week. Among many comments submitted by stakeholders was a comment highlighting a computation error that skewed the pricing of alternatives in the study model by a factor of 70. Correcting just this one error will created a much more realistic picture of the cost of renewables and energy efficiency measures and will likely bring solutions closer to meeting the mandates of the Global Warming Solutions Act.

“Bringing in additional natural gas is not only a step in the wrong direction, it is a step backwards” said Cathy Kristofferson of StopNED. “Massachusetts is already at risk of not meeting its 2020 committed GWSA target of a 25% reduction in emissions, but as this study concludes, more gas consumption just makes that goal more unachievable.”

“Our goal was to understand how Massachusetts can meet both its energy needs and its GWSA targets, and reduce other environmental impacts. The study’s preliminary findings clearly indicate that prioritization and investment in clean energy solutions is the only option to meet that goal,” said Kathryn Eiseman, Director of the Massachusetts Pipeline Awareness Network, who added, “These real world considerations and the need to address climate change must guide our policy decisions.”

The stated goal of this study is to determine whether new gas infrastructure is required, and if so, how to optimize for environmental, reliability, and cost considerations. While the preliminary, uncorrected, study results suggested that under certain conditions additional gas could be required to meet Massachusetts’ power generation needs, the amounts referenced – between .6 and .9 billion cubic feet per day – would not only miss the 2020 greenhouse gas target of 23.3 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, the gap would continue to widen in the future.

The DOER-sponsored study was agreed to by the Patrick Administration in response to intense pressure from citizens, businesses and environmentalists to re-examine earlier studies.

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