For the first time in several weeks the big news on the energy front isn’t about the cold weather – though that’s likely to return before the winter is through. This week’s biggest energy story looks a little further into the future. Three years to be exact, when the region’s grid operator says there will be a shortfall of the energy we’re likely to need.
This scenario is years in the making and will take years to solve. Market conditions, aging facilities, and a lack of new energy projects on the horizon are all factors that add up to a shortfall. Power plants are closing but, because of the regulatory process and other hurdles, projects that could make up for their loss are still years from coming online.
We need more sources of power, we need them to be diverse and renewable, and we need to be working on them now. Here’s a look at the problems darkening New England’s energy outlook:
The Nashua Telegraph’s “Granite Geek” takes a comprehensive look at all the factors that played into this year’s energy futures auction and the projected 2017 capacity shortfall.
The capacity shortfall anticipated for 2017 will have an impact on prices for most utility consumers. NHPR explains the relationship between the lower supply and higher energy costs.
New England will lose 600 megawatts of power when the Vermont Yankee power plant shuts down this year. The company that owns that plant, and another in Massachusetts, warns in this Forbes article that the region’s over-reliance on a single fuel source like natural gas threatens the viability of other power producers.
Despite warnings of blackouts and other complications, the owners of Brayton Point in Massachusetts have set a closing date of June 1st, 2017. As reported on South Coast Today, the company expects other projects would come on line that would eliminate the need to keep running.
There are as many as 10 proposals for new or expanded natural gas pipeline in New England, but much of that new energy won’t be available until 2018 at the earliest. Meanwhile, as Bloomberg Businessweek points out, power plants use of natural gas has jumped from producing 30% of our electricity in 2001 to 52% today, without a single new pipeline being built.