How many times have you heard or read these phrases in the last week: energy crisis, higher rates, natural gas pipeline, and wholesale market? Chances are you’ve come across them more than you realize and, certainly, more than you have in the past. Maybe you’ve even brought these topics up in conversation for the first time with your friends or co-workers.
New England’s energy challenges have gotten plenty of attention and the conversation is now moving from, “How did we get here?” to “What needs to happen?” Below is a sample of some of the articles and reports published in recent weeks that discuss how New England might begin to ease the crunch between the region’s needs and its precarious supply.
2014/2015 winter outlook: sufficient power supplies expected, but natural gas pipeline constraints a concern
ISO Newswire, 20 November 2014
“The New England region should have sufficient resources in place this winter to meet consumer demand for electricity; however, insufficient pipeline capacity to meet power generators’ demand for natural gas continues to be a particular concern during the winter months. The retirement of several non-natural-gas-fired power plants since last winter also is a concern.”
Bedford panelists lament region in energy crunch, solution years away
New Hampshire Union Leader, 19 November 2014
“New England governors last year launched an ambitious initiative to finance new pipeline construction at ratepayer expense, but the Massachusetts legislature balked at that plan, which is now in limbo.
The panelists lamented the fact that New England seems incapable of building a consensus around any solution, while other regions of the country are awash in cheap energy.”
With Energy System Strained, New England May Face Rolling Blackouts
WGBH/WCAI, 17 November 2014
“He said the problem just gets worse with every nuclear, coal or oil plant that closes, because it leaves too few power plants generating electricity. He says if the Salem natural gas plant isn’t built by 2016, projections show greater Boston isn’t guaranteed to have enough electricity on peak demand days. There are many steps ISO-New England can take if that actually happens – but in extreme cases operators may have to rely on rolling blackouts as a last resort.”
New England’s Looming ‘Energy Crisis’
Nuclear Energy Institute, 18 November 2014
“These price and reliability challenges will only be exacerbated by the closure of Vermont Yankee. Noting the large electricity rate hikes that utilities across New England already have announced in anticipation of Vermont Yankee’s closing, author and energy expert Jim Conca says that the nuclear plant’s presence helped to mask the underlying rise in wholesale gas prices—a natural result of demand outstripping supply.”
PSNH president: NH electricity rates on seasonal roller coaster
Concord Monitor, 18 November 2014
“’The next winter or two, unfortunately . . . we’re going to see high prices in the market,’ Quinlan told the Monitor in a recent interview, which focused on the state’s energy outlook. ‘The good thing is, I think this is a solvable challenge.’”
Paying for Power: Who Controls the Price of Electricity
myChamplianValley.com, 13 November 2014
“GMP generates some of its own power at its Kingdom Community Wind Plant, and has long-term supply contracts with companies like Hydro-Quebec. That means they don’t buy as much energy from other suppliers each year.
‘So the way we manage our power supply with our own sources and long-term power contracts really helps keep our prices much more stable,’ Schnure said. ‘And we’re not exposed to the volatility of the market.’”
N.H. utilities pledge to help customers
Eagle Tribune, 17 November 2014
“As electric rates in Southern New Hampshire soar this fall, the state’s utilities say they’re trying to lessen the impact on customers.
That’s because the impact will be significant, with some rates increasing between 29 and 50 percent.”