In early September, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) held a forum in Burlington, Vermont during which energy stakeholders outlined a potential catastrophe that could impact New England over the winter.

Read the full story: Lights out? New England grapples with issues brought on by the energy transition

The region has become overly reliant (more than 50%) on natural gas for power and should an extremely cold winter befall the United States, grid operator ISO-New England said the supply of natural gas to the region could become so strained that generators could not produce power. Situations like that usually result in rolling blackouts.

In response to the potentially dire situation, last week, Joe Nolan the President and CEO of Eversource, the largest electric utility to serve New England (with 4 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut) sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to take immediate action to potentially remedy the situation.

A portion of the letter is quoted below:

I ask you to direct the Secretary of Energy to convene all relevant parties to develop a plan to ensure the region is ready to meet the challenges one or more extreme winter weather events would present, using both the authorities available to the market participants and the federal government’s emergency authorities. The need for action now is compelling. Many of the solutions require advance planning because they may require actions by regulators, finding new resources, chartering vessels, arranging for additional fuel deliveries, and other yet to be identified extraordinary actions.

Nolan said Biden could issue a Jones Act waiver that would allow for the shipment of natural gas to New England ports from other US ports because it could be delivered to New England on foreign-flagged vessels. The US doesn’t own any natural gas tanker ships and is therefor unable to deliver domestic natural gas by ship under current rules. In addition Nolan said Biden could exercise emergency authorities under Federal Power Act, The Natural Gas Policy Act, or the Defense Production Act.

Nolan urged Biden to direct Secretary Granholm to begin convening stakeholders “without delay” to start the process in case such an emergency situation arises.

Read the letter in its entirety here.

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