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New England energy company CEO warns of potential winter power problems in letter to Biden

Mike Walsh of Arlington Fuel Oil Co., Inc. makes a delivery of home heating oil October 20, 2008 in Arlington, Massachusetts. Home heating oil prices continue to fluctuate in the recent uncertain economy and late last week the government released $5.1 billion in fuel assistance to states to help poor people cope with the high costs of fuel expected this winter.
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Mike Walsh of Arlington Fuel Oil Co. Inc. makes a delivery of home heating oil Oct. 20, 2008, in Arlington, Massachusetts.

The leader of a New England energy company has issued a warning: The region’s power supply might not be able to withstand extreme cold weather this winter.

Eversource CEO Joseph R. Nolan Jr. shared those concerns in a letter sent last Thursday to President Biden.

“As both an energy company CEO and a lifelong New Englander, I am deeply concerned about the potentially severe impact a winter energy shortfall would have on the people and businesses of this region,” Nolan wrote.

He called on the president to take various emergency actions to get ahead of any crisis.

New England remains dependent on natural gas to generate electricity, Nolan said.

Concerns about the winter come as Russia's invasion of Ukraine is pushing the limits of the fuel supply. Eversource pointed to the war for straining natural gas supplies. And international demand for natural gas means higher prices and lower supplies.

In his letter, Nolan notes that ISO New England and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have acknowledged that in the event of a severe cold weather spell, New England won’t have sufficient natural gas to meet power supply needs.

Dan Dolan is president of the New England Power Generators Association.

“We still face a really tightening market, really volatile prices, and really it comes down to the Russian aggression in Ukraine,” Dolan said.

Still, Dolan’s optimistic.

“Under the vast majority of scenarios that we see for winter weather in New England, we are confident in the reliability of the electricity system here. Period,” he said.

Dolan said the tightening supply and rising price of natural gas could easily make electricity more expensive this winter. It’s a chance for New England to recommit itself to long-term energy solutions, he said.

Note: An executive with Eversource, Gregory B. Butler, is a member of Connecticut Public’s Board of Trustees.

Jeff Cohen started in newspapers in 2001 and joined Connecticut Public in 2010, where he worked as a reporter and fill-in host. In 2017, he was named news director. Then, in 2022, he became a senior enterprise reporter.
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