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New England Governors Seek More LNG to Meet Winter Demand

As part of a broader regional energy strategy, five New England governors are working with their state congressional delegations on potential federal agency actions that could free up more liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments this winter.

Natural gas for both heating and electric generation in the winter exceeds supplies, increasing the need for LNG shipments. But a 1920 federal law, the Jones Act, limits shipments to U.S. ports to ships built in the United States and owned by U.S. citizens.

In a statement earlier this year on energy affordability, the governors of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont raised the issue of modifying the Jones Act.

Their joint statement calls for "working with Congressional delegations to address whether the Jones Act should be modified to ensure that LNG can be delivered in a timely manner during winter months."

More recently, Massachusetts issued a "comprehensive energy plan,” identifying critical strategies to increase winter reliability that could include increasing LNG supplies during the winter, according to state energy officials.

The plan was part of an executive order from Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker calling for an integrated climate change strategy for the commonwealth aimed at changing the energy landscape. “[We] will use this plan to build upon major advancements like securing cost-effective, large-scale clean energy procurements of hydro-electricity and offshore wind energy,” he said.

The energy goals carry economic benefits designed to keep each state competitive in the years ahead, according to the statement, which also stressed that “New England states have to be competitive to attract and retain businesses and residents." The affordability and reliability of energy is fundamental to achieving that goal, the governors added.

Along with pursuing more LNG shipments, the governors called for examining additional infrastructure, including gas storage, in key areas that could be used by gas-fired power plants.

The governors' joint statement acknowledges and there is "no one clear solution" of renewables, LNG or efficiency programs. Each state is "committed to use tools within its jurisdiction to advance solutions to the winter fuel security issue," the governors noted.

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