The severely cold weather earlier this month and at the end of December helped underscore an issue that’s long been a top concern for Massachusetts small business owners: energy costs.
On Dec. 27, Bloomberg reported that spot prices in New England more than tripled—the highest level in more than three years—making the area the world’s most expensive energy market. The total gas consumption in the U.S. spiked 31 percent from Dec. 22 to Dec. 26.
CommonWealth magazine also reported on the runaway costs in Massachusetts: “Natural gas prices last week reached $50 per million BTU, a level unseen since the ‘polar vortex’ of 2013-2014, and electricity prices spiked to $200 per megawatt-hour. Cold temperatures and inadequate pipeline capacity were culprits, just as they were several years ago that led to more than $7 billion in higher energy costs. No other region of the country is paying such penalties.” The magazine report also noted that an inadequate fuel supply forced the use of oil to power one-third of the region’s electricity needs; however, these plants are facing operating limits because of restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s imperative for Massachusetts lawmakers to prioritize access to affordable, clean natural gas to prevent rate spikes, avoid reliance on dirtier-burning energy sources during cold snaps, and help contain costs for residents and business owners.