Massachusetts and other New England ratepayers paid $7 billion more for electricity the past two winters than they paid in previous years, estimates say.

The chief culprit, energy analysts say, is a lack of pipeline capacity, leaving the region choked off from access to natural gas in the massive Marcellus shale formation, some 300 miles away in Pennsylvania.

You may think plans to build a new pipeline would be met with cheers from ratepayers, but there’s still loud opposition from critics of a number of projects.

Kinder Morgan, for instance, issued a revised proposal to build a $3.3 billion natural gas pipeline from Wright, New York to Dracut, Massachusetts.

“This is yet another fossil fuel that we’re becoming overly dependent on,” said Kathryn Eiseman, president of the Pipeline Awareness Network for the Northeast who lives in Cummington, Massachusetts. “It’s not being treated as a bridge (fuel) anymore, really. If you put in this huge amount of gas infrastructure then we’re locked into using it for much longer than we can afford to, given the greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.”

But supporters say a new pipeline — regardless who builds it — won’t just deliver natural gas but would also bring much-needed financial relief to ratepayers in New England, who have shivered through two consecutive brutal winters.

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