AUGUSTA – Gov. Paul R. LePage on Monday called upon the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to intervene in New England to address rising energy prices before a winter gets underway — a step he said is necessary because of recent actions taken by Massachusetts.
“New England households and our businesses are about to experience a catastrophic increase in electric bills,” LePage said in a press release.
“We need action now. It’s well past the time that New England should have added natural gas pipeline capacity,” he said. “FERC must step up and address the unprecedented situation that liberals in Massachusetts have created.”
This comes a month after Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, backed out of an agreement between the New England governors to advance natural gas infrastructure in the region to lower energy costs. Under pressure from environmental groups, the governor claimed that he needed to study the issue more, and could not commit to the plan as of yet.
LePage has attacked his Massachusetts counterpart several times since that decision, accusing him of playing politics instead of making progress towards lower energy prices.
Patrick has endorsed LePage’s Democratic opponent in this years gubernatorial contest, Democratic U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud.
Without Massachusetts signing off to natural gas infrastructure in their state, there is no way for a pipeline to reach Maine and northern New England, said LePage.
“This situation is similar to a massive Nor’easter having just hit Massachusetts and their Governor refusing to plow the highways, blocking access to Northern New England,” said the governor. “While prices are spiking, liberals in Massachusetts have opposed natural gas infrastructure, saying they need to study the issue more. This is unconscionable.”
While waiting for a decision from Patrick, LePage has taken steps to add natural gas infrastructure to Maine in the hopes that Patrick will eventually come around, according to the press release. He said he has reached out to Spectra Energy requesting that they add natural gas capacity, and he has called on the FERC to address the New England energy crisis.
In his letter, the governor asked FERC to fast track regulatory approval and consider natural gas storage, both of which could prepare the state should Patrick join other New England governors in pursuing advancements to the region’s natural gas infrastructure.