For the first time in a long time, we’re able to say that electricity prices are down! But, unfortunately, that’s not saying much. The wholesale price of electricity in March did drop 24% from February, but it was still 115% higher than a year ago.
New England’s imbalanced relationship between natural gas and electricity generation–with the constrained fuel supply driving electricity prices to record heights this winter–will only get worse in the coming years. If it weren’t for stockpiles of oil during the coldest months, the grid could have been in peril. As if that weren’t enough, area power plants are retiring, there are regulations on fossil fuels, and reserves of natural gas are low. The only thing certain about our energy future is that it’s uncertain.
This is the back drop for a flood of proposals for new energy projects in New England. There is, of course, Northern Pass, which would add a significant source of reliable, low-cost hydropower to the grid. There is also a push to keep the nation’s fleet of nuclear power plants alive. And then there’s the unprecedented measure to have utility customers foot the bill to add more natural gas pipeline in the region.
There is no one solution to offset the region’s over-reliance on natural gas or to replace the vast amount of power that will come off-line when existing plants retire. It will take several projects to restore energy security to the region and put us on the path to a cleaner future. Without them, as Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Phillip Moeller said in an interview last week, we face the very real possibility of rolling blackouts. This is why we believe our region must be honest about our energy needs and work toward compromise on near-term solutions.
(The following links are included in the above communication)
Monthly wholesale electricity prices and demand in New England
Winter 2013/14 Benchmark and Revised Projections for New England Natural Gas Supplies and Demand
(ICF International for ISO-New England – see conclusion page)
Supreme Court upholds rule limiting coal pollution
Marc Brown: Why Northern Pass Matters
(Berlin Daily Sun)
Electric Companies Jump On Push For New Gas Pipeline
A Fresh Look at U.S. Energy Regulation
(Platts Energy Week – Commissioner Moeller starts talking about blackout risks at the 4:44 mark)
Projects challenge us to find balance