Since the announcement of the Northern Pass project, Gary A. Long has been a champion of the 187-mile transmission line and the clean energy it will bring the region. As Northeast Utilities President of New Hampshire Renewable Energy Policy Development, Long was out again this week speaking about Northern Pass before the Nashua Telegraph editorial board.
During the interview, a report of which was published in the paper on Wednesday, Long talks about New England’s energy needs and how Northern Pass’ 1,200 megawatts of clean Canadian hydropower can help address the projected energy shortfalls the region faces in the coming years.
As we wrote about in a recent Project Journal post, the region’s power grid operator, ISO-New England, issued a memo earlier this month projecting potential energy shortfalls in 2017–2018 and the need for additional power generation. Long also spoke about this memo, saying the best way to meet the region’s energy needs and to avoid further reliance on natural gas is to use electricity from Quebec.
“The way New England has evolved over the last 15 years … has been away from everything except from natural gas and some renewables. So New England is starting to turn to Canada,” Long told the Telegraph. “As the other states look at these issues, they’re not talking about underground—they’re talking about how do we get the power, period.”
The region’s reliance on natural gas to generate electricity has been gaining more attention in recent months as utilities continue to predict prices will rise this coming winter. Beyond cost, Long said relying too heavily on natural gas has left New England vulnerable to brownouts during periods of high-usage in the winter and summer months.
“Long said the vulnerability is such that ISO-New England, the organization that oversees the region’s electric grid, is paying some power plants to store extra oil so they can fire up on short notice this winter in case bad weather closes down some other plants or major transmission lines,” the article stated.
As New England heads into the future, the region faces some difficult challenges when it comes to meeting its energy needs, including where New England’s energy will come from five years from now. In raising awareness about these energy issues, Long has made a compelling case for Northern Pass and how much its power is needed. By importing 1,200 megawatts of hydropower—about the equivalent of three Cape Wind projects—the region will have a constant and secure source of clean, renewable energy to meet our growing energy demand for decades to come.