The CEO of Eversource Energy has asked President Joe Biden to suspend a century-old maritime law and consider other measures to boost energy supplies in New England in the event of a colder-than-normal winter and natural gas shortage.
“I write to you today to ask for your administration’s leadership again to swiftly address the growing concerns about winter electric reliability in New England,” CEO Joe Nolan Jr. said in his Oct. 27 letter.
He asked Biden to consider using emergency powers to “ensure that adequate fuel resources will be available in the event of severe weather conditions in New England this winter.” He warned of a possible natural gas shortage in New England, which relies on the fuel for power generation.
“This represents a serious public health and safety threat,” Nolan said.
The White House press office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said Oct. 21 that New England has adequate power supplies for normal winter weather but could face shortfalls in long cold periods because of the region’s limited ability to import natural gas.
ISO New England in August issued a long-term energy plan calling for reduced dependence on liquefied natural gas imports.
New England is at the end of the interstate pipeline system and lacks “large scale, long duration energy” or fuel storage resulting in the gas distribution and electric power systems being dependent on imported LNG, Nolan said. Pipeline deliveries are supplemented by shipments of foreign-sourced LNG deliveries to Everett, Massachusetts, on foreign-flagged vessels.
Nolan said consumers in New England are already paying higher prices for electricity and gas due to “supply constraints and global price pressures” following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
He asked Biden to waive the Jones Act, a 1920 law that requires cargo shipped between U.S. ports to be carried by U.S. ships with American crews. Critics say the Jones Act’s requirement that New England energy companies hire domestic ships to transport fuel prevents New England from shipping fuel from Texas or Pennsylvania because of a lack of U.S. LNG tankers.
Nolan also suggested Biden issue an emergency order under the Natural Gas Policy Act that would give him unspecified authority if he determines a severe natural gas shortage endangers the supply of natural gas for high-priority uses. He also suggested the president invoke his emergency authority under the Defense Production Act to increase domestic energy supply by allocating materials and supplies and issuing priority orders and contracts.
Correction: We have corrected the link to the letter Eversource CEO Joe Nolan Jr. wrote to President Biden.