The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved a plan to require utility ratepayers to help pay for expanded natural gas, so long as other New England states follow the same plan. This approval was made despite the objection of the PUC’s staff and environmentalists.
The PUC argues that expanded capacity of natural gas is necessary in order to prevent winter price spikes. The staff argued that low oil and gas prices as well as new pipelines under construction would temper price spikes without ratepayers getting involved.
Speaking on behalf of the Industrial Energy Consumer Group, Anthony Buxton said he thinks the decision would ensure adequate access to natural gas on the coldest days of winter instead of relying on other, more expensive ways to keep homes warm. Critics believe the benefits are overstated and hope to see that the proposal does not move forward.
Maine now waits for decisions from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island to see their respective regulatory processes.