CRANSTON, R.I. – The independent corporation overseeing the operation of New England’s power system says natural gas pipelines feeding the region are so constrained that electricity prices are driven higher during cold winters.

ISO New England President Gordon van Welie says regional pipelines were built for gas distribution companies’ heating demands, not for power generation. He says they’re at, or near capacity, in winter and generators have to use more expensive fuels, including oil and liquefied natural gas.

Van Welie spoke at an energy conference Friday in Rhode Island.

He says policymakers could address the constraints by making additional investments in gas infrastructure or renewable energy, or allowing more oil to be burned in the winter. He says coal is “pretty much gone” in New England because only two plants are left and one is retiring.

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