Continued weather extremes, including two bouts of a “polar vortex,” have exposed a major weakness in the way we generate electricity in New England. The problems created by our limited access to natural gas, which produces more than half of the region’s electricity during normal conditions, have gotten the attention of the nation’s top energy official. The region’s maxed-out natural gas capacity has also prompted New England’s governors to ask the region’s grid operator, ISO-New England, to help implement a plan that would have electricity customers pay the bill for additional energy projects.
Here are just a few of the headlines addressing these issues in recent weeks:
U.S. Energy Secretary Plans To Review New England’s Natural Gas Shortage
As the Hartford Courant reports, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz is calling for a review of New England’s natural gas shortage.
Editorial: Wanted: New Natural Gas Pipelines
The Concord Monitor editorial page calls on New England’s governors to be proactive in their attempts to bring more natural gas to the region and educate the public about region’s need for more energy sources.
PSNH Power Key to Region’s Energy Security
PSNH’s Bill Quinlan writes an Op-Ed that appeared in many New Hampshire newspapers, including the Portsmouth Herald, about the importance of energy diversity under extreme circumstances.
Frozen Northeast Getting Gouged by Natural Gas Prices
Bloomberg Business Week takes a look at the effect natural gas pipeline constraints is having on the cost of natural gas – and in turn energy prices – in the Northeast.
Ratepayers Would Pick Up Gas Pipeline Tab Under New England Governors’ Proposal
The Union Leader reports on a recent letter the New England governors wrote to the region’s grid operator, recognizing the need for more energy projects and asking for help in devising a customer cost-sharing structure to pay for those investments.
‘Must run’ Coal Plant to Shut Down in 2017
Massachusetts’ Brayton Point coal-fired power plant will close in 2017 despite the objections and “must run” status issued by ISO-New England. The Boston Globe reports on the effect the plant’s closing may have on the regional grid.
Can Natural Gas Weather the Storm?
One Forbes analyst challenges New England’s – and America’s – natural gas future given the volatility exposed under this winter’s condition.
A Lot of Gas but Not Here: How Should New England Deal With its Natural Gas Appetite?
The Bangor Daily Sun works to explain New England’s complicated energy problems and how the governors’ proposal to increase pipeline and infrastructure may or may not address them.
As New England’s governors have recognized, the region needs a new and diverse energy sources. That includes both additional natural gas pipeline capacity and transmission infrastructure to connect New England with renewable, clean power projects. The problems we are seeing this winter will only get worse in the coming years with the retirement of several aging power plants, yet as the Concord Monitor pointed out, any potential solution will take years to develop and will likely face great opposition. This week’s news shows us, however, that both local and national leaders have recognized that building a diversity of new energy projects is our best bet in achieving a clean, reliable energy future.