A long awaited report from the Maine PUC (Public Utilities Commission) reveals that consumers wouldn't benefit from increased natural gas capacity. There is currently a plan to spend up to $75 million a year to expand natural gas capacity.
"The PUC staff concluded that low oil and gas prices, new pipelines under construction or being permitted, and other factors could temper winter price spikes in wholesale natural gas without ratepayers getting involved" (Portland Press Herald).
The report said, in part: “The record in this proceeding does not support a finding that (a pipeline contract) is reasonably likely to provide net benefits for Maine electricity and natural gas consumers under a sufficiently broad spectrum of future scenarios. Moreover, regional market conditions, rule changes and other events suggest that the price and volatility concerns that led to the (2013 law) may be addressed without (a contract).”
The staff recommendation isn’t binding, but it will carry weight when the three PUC commissioners meet soon to vote on how or whether to proceed. In order to approve a contract to expand pipeline capacity, commissioners would have to find that the investment would save ratepayers money overall. Deliberations in the case are expected this month or in July.
Between now and then, parties to the case will file legal arguments based on the staff conclusions." (Portland Press Herald).