The federal government is the latest entity to join the growing list of people and groups voicing concern about New England’s energy pinch.
Last week the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, issued its yearly Winter Energy Market Assessment – a preview of what the federal oversight agency expects will happen to energy supplies, prices, and markets across the country during the winter months. It found that New England is at great risk for high prices with little relief in sight. This analysis prompted one commissioner to call New England “somewhat of an island from an infrastructure standpoint.”
The spike in electricity rates announced last month by several utilities are the result of many factors which are expected to play out again this winter—including our lack of adequate energy infrastructure. New England is on an infrastructure island where natural gas can’t reach power plants when it’s needed the most. Without added natural gas pipelines, these high prices will continue, something even residents in communities along natural gas pipeline routes are starting to acknowledge.
New England cannot obtain lower energy costs with more natural gas alone. Vermont Yankee and Salem Harbor, two large non-gas power plants, will both be closed by the end of 2014 and the future of other power plants in the region has been called into question, risking the fuel diversity that is key to price and grid stability.
It will also take more than expanded natural gas capacity to help New England its renewable energy goals. This effort will require new infrastructure. Whether it’s wind, solar or Canadian hydropower, new clean energy projects need transmission lines to get the power to the people.
New energy projects have the potential to lower energy costs and create jobs while still respecting the environment. But the ongoing debate about new energy projects reminds us of the challenges before us.
(The links below are used in the above communication)
Grid operators wary of coming winter
Pittsfield council puts off vote on gas pipeline
Oil, natural gas prices confound New England
(AP via Nashua Telegraph)
Bridgeport’s coal plant in for the long run
The Value of US Power Diversity
Lack of transmission lines stand in way of wind power
Party lines and pipelines: Candidates talk energy
(AP via Bloomberg Businessweek)
Patrick’s energy policies under criticism
Patrick administration launches review of state’s natural gas needs
(Boston Business Journal)
Electric power rights of way a new frontier for conservation
(Yale Environment 360)