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Report: Proposed Natural Gas Storage Facility Wouldn't Lower Energy Prices

Energy prices in Maine would not be reduced if consumers paid for a new natural gas storage facility in the state. That’s a state consultant’s conclusion as regulators consider several proposals to provide new storage for liquefied natural gas.

Lawmakers last year directed the Public Utilities Commission to solicit bids for new storage, aiming to provide a buffer against gas supply constraints that can emerge during prolonged cold snaps, driving prices up for electricity that’s fueled by gas.

The consultant, Navigant, found that none of the bids — some for massive storage tanks, others for new supply systems — would drive down electricity prices, while consumers would be on the hook to pay for any of the multimillion dollar proposals.

“We’re still evaluating the Navigant report, but what the Navigant report suggests is that the reason we haven’t seen the private market do this is because it’s not a good deal,” says Tim Schneider, the state’s consumer watchdog.

Regulators are not expected to make a final decision until March.

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.