A rift has developed among New England states over who should pay for transmission lines needed to carry electricity from renewable energy projects.
The issue is whether ratepayers across the region should foot the bill for power lines needed for southern New England. The debate has pitted Vermont against some of the more populated states to our south.
Southern New England – in particular Massachusetts and Connecticut – needs more renewable generation to meet their clean-energy mandates.
The debate over who pays has centered on the concept of socializing costs. That’s the idea that all ratepayers should share the expense of projects that benefit society and the region as a whole. The cost of lines deemed necessary to keep the grid running reliably are now spread out across the region.
Proponents of socializing the cost of projects needed to meet a particular state’s renewable energy targets say the same logic should apply.
New England states are split on the issue. Opposing the automatic cost sharing for the new power lines are Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Officials from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine are in favor.
Barbara Kates-Garnick, is undersecretary for energy for Massachusetts. She said all the New England states should help pay, because the benefits – such as reaching greenhouse gas reduction goals – are shared regionally.
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