Are we too dependent on natural gas in New England? Or do we need more natural gas in New England? For Eversource, it depends on which project it’s pushing.

While Eversource subsidiary Northern Pass Transmission LLC took advantage of the recent cold snap to repeat its claim that Northern Pass is needed to address New England’s dependence on natural gas, a Massachusetts Eversource subsidiary remains committed to a pipeline project to bring even more natural gas to New England.  

Eversource is one of three partners in the Access Northeast to New England Access Northeast to New England natural gas pipeline project.

Not surprisingly, Eversource NH wanted to have New Hampshire electricity consumers help pay for its sister subsidiary’s natural gas pipeline by committing to a 20-year contract because, well, they said we need more natural gas. 

According to Eversource NH president Bill Quinlan, "There is universal recognition that we need to bring more natural gas into the region."

But in his testimony to the Site Evaluation Committee in support of Northern Pass, the same Bill Quinlan said, “The Project will directly address the volatility of electricity prices during winter months by reducing the region's dependence on natural gas by adding 5% of non-gas fired generation to the regional supply mix.”

Maybe Bill Quinlan is the only Eversource employee who takes both sides on natural gas, you wonder.

Nope.

Martin Murray, the spokesperson for both Eversource NH and Northern Pass, has demonstrated this habit as well.

In support of the Access Northeast natural gas pipeline, Martin Murray said, “the constrained supply of natural gas into the region is contributing to unacceptable electric price volatility.”

But last week during the cold snap, with his Northern Pass hat on, Mr. Murray (@nhmurrays) tweeted, “#northernpass offers clean, base-load energy to a region that relies too much on nat gas.”

The official websites for these two Eversource projects also make opposite claims about natural gas.

The official website for the Access Northeast pipeline project states: “The project's partners continue to pursue a viable commercial and operational model to provide clean-burning natural gas to electric generators in New England in support of the region's emission goals.”

But the official Northern Pass website begs to differ, stating: “New England’s growing dependence on natural gas is an ongoing concern for state and federal officials, who believe that a diverse energy portfolio ensures both energy reliability and economic stability.”

Seriously, have these people heard about Google? How stupid do they think we are?

It’s all about the money. Eversource doesn’t really care about whether we need more natural gas or not. The company will make money if Access Northeast goes forward bringing more natural gas to New England. And the company will make money if Northern Pass goes forward on the argument that it’s needed to reduce our dependence on natural gas. It’s the profit margin that matters.    

In three weeks the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee will begin its deliberations on whether to approve Northern Pass. As they consider the credibility of testimony and arguments, the SEC members need to keep in mind that Northern Pass is full of gas.