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Gov. Charlie Baker eyes Canada power

Gov. Charlie Baker, at a regional summit in New Foundland, said yesterday he hopes to bring more Canadian hydropower and natural gas to Massachusetts in the coming years to help solve the state’s energy deficit.

“They have capacity. We have demand. The key issue for all of us is how do we figure out how to link those two,” Baker said at the annual Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers. “And while I appreciate … that we have to figure out how to make that work, I do believe that all of us are rowing in the same direction with respect to that, and I anticipate that over the course of the next several years we’ll be successful.”

On his first official trip abroad since taking office in January, the governor said hydropower could help meet the state’s electricity needs, increase its use of renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gases.

Baker also said he wants to increase Massachusetts’ access to natural gas – currently the source of 60 percent of the state’s energy – to avoid “significant” fluctuations in prices.

“There’s currently … a couple of proposals involving natural gas transmission expansion that involve expansion along existing rights of way,” he said. “If those proposals were to come to fruition, they would significantly increase the New England region’s access primarily to the Marcellus Shale gas in Pennsylvania, which would be a very important way for us to deal with some of the significant ups and downs we’ve seen over the course of the past couple of winters in our natural gas pricing where we’ve … been paying a very high price during particularly cold periods of time primarily because we simply haven’t had the capacity to get natural gas through a pipeline to New England, and as a result we paid on the spot market a very high price for other choices of energy to deal with that.”

In an email yesterday, National Grid spokeswoman Mary-Leah Assad said it believes a “balanced portfolio of energy resources, including large-scale renewables, increased natural gas capacity and enhanced energy-efficiency programs, is the key to securing New England’s long-term energy future. We have worked closely with our customers, regulators and elected officials to support a wide variety of projects – from wind power and hydroelectricity to gas pipelines – that will connect New England to affordable, cleaner sources of energy.”