^ Governor Patrick to the people : “Pay for elctricity or twist in the wind !”
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Electricity rates are going up by a whopping 37 percent. For almost all Massachusetts after the residents. The new rates were announced on October 1st and go into effect in November — after the election.
It need not have been thus. Governor Patrick had plenty of warning of the problem : a shortage of natural gas. Because Massachusetts’ s economy is doing well — booming in Boston, at least — much more natural gas has been needed to power electric plants. The gas is there. Gas suppliers very much want to bring it into Massachusetts and are ready to do so ; except that none of the proposed nnew pipelines needed have won Governor Patrick’s OK.
Instead, Patrick has pushed the development of alternative energy : solar and wind. I have no problem with alternative energy, none at all. By all means let’s develop it. But making solar power cost-effective for the vast majority of people, especially in the cities, is a task encompassing an entire generation. Meanwhile, only natural gas can bring us electricity affordably and now.
So could coal power, but environmental activists have successfully made the case that coal power burdens the atmosphere. All of our state’s coal-powered electric plants are converting to gas. And doing so even though there isn’t enough gas for even current needs, much less conversion’s demands.
Two months ago I opined that Kinder Morgan, a major gas supplier, could expand its existing gas pipeline that parallels, more or less, Route 20 along our state’s southern tier. Doing so would set aside the company’s proposed pipeline along the state’s northern border. a route which aroused opposition in all 27 towns through which it would pass. Why wasn’t this southern addition approved ? Why did Governor Patrick do nothing ?
Because Massachusetts is the crux of all New England’s utility lines, Patrick’s inaction affects the entire region’s electricity rates. What was he thinking ?
Patrick’s inaction could not have happened if Massachusetts had a strong opposition political party to hold him accountable. He was able to get away with passing the huge political cost of this rate hike to his successor only because no such opposition exists on Beacon Hill. There are far too few Republicans in the legislature to force anything, annd none in the administration.
Some have asked, ‘where was Martha Caokley when this inaction was bruited ?” The answer : she was nowhere.
Coakely won only 23 percent of votes at her party’s nominating convention. Less than a quarter of the dominant political party’s activists wanted her. That the electricity hike occasioned by Patrick’s inaction might negatively impact Martha Coakley’s campaign was in no one’s thinking. Most of the people who matter on Beacon Hill were with Steve Grossman. That Coakley might end up the nominee was either not likely to the administration’s deciders or not a problem, because, so their thinking probably went, Massachusetts is now so democratic that she’d win anyway.
And so here we are, we the people, facing a huge increase in our electric bill that could not have — would not have — happened had we a strong two-party government in which the deciders had to take major objections into account, or else.
For me, the rate hike means $ 800 a year that I now cannot spend into the consumer economy : and i badly need a new iPhone, but don’t have the $ 300, much less $ 800. And you ? I suspect you’re in much the same boat.
What are we to think of the signal being sent ? That Martha Coakley’s political prospects were so lightly regarded by the Beacon Hill deciders that they saddled her with this stink bomb tells us just what she will be like as governor : disregarded by almost everyone, in office only to keep the Republicans out, and for no other, bigger purpose.
We deserve beter. We deserve two-party government. The deciders must be confronted before the decisions are made — or avoided — not afterwards, when it’s too late for anybody to do anything about it.
Meanwhile, get ready for November’s electric bill.
—- ike Freedberg / Here and Sphere