Our Opinion: Revealing study on hydro, wind

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A new study on the potential impact of large-scale hydro and wind power projects in the state is particularly significant in light of Kinder Morgan's pipeline decision.

The economic analysis asserts that residents would see a net benefit of $171 million a year in savings from long-term contracts for hydropower and windpower from Canada and northern New England. The study was conducted by Power Advisory for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Partnership, a coalition of wind, hydro and transmission companies.

Kinder Morgan abandoned or "suspended" its controversial plan to build a pipeline across the Berkshires to Northeastern Massachusetts because of a combination of low demand and state regulations it regarded as inhospitable. Natural gas will continue to be a part of the state's energy equation but clean energy must become a larger component. The Power Advisory study estimates that increased use of power from hydro and wind will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 7.2 million metric tons per year, delivering 10 percent of the carbon emission reductions required by 2050 under state law.

Governor Baker is a strong advocate of bringing hydropower in from Canada and the Legislature is expected to consider a hydropower bill as early as next month. We expect Beacon Hill to produce its own studies on clean energy, and in the case of hydropower, state subsidies, either partially or in full, of the cost of building hydropower infrastructure are sure to be an issue.

The Power Advisory study asserts the savings generated will more than cover the costs of building the transmission and facility infrastructure. The issue is complex and there is more to be researched, but it can be safely said that for economic and environmental reasons, the state must increase its use of clean energy.


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