Posted on May 5th, 2014 by

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.

March wholsale prices

Source: ISO-NE This chart shows the March wholesale prices of electricity and generating fuels over the last 11 years. 2014 is, by far, the highest of that period.

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.

van welie wsj quoteThere 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
(ISO-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)

Winter 2014: How Fuel Oil Saved The Day In New England
(Forbes)

U.S. expects about 10 pct of nuclear capacity to shut by 2020
(Reuters)

Supreme Court upholds rule limiting coal pollution
(Boston Globe)

Shrinking natural gas reserves complicate Maine’s efforts to expand service in state
(Bangor Daily News)

Marc Brown: Why Northern Pass Matters
(Berlin Daily Sun)

State, regional action could benefit US merchant reactors: panelists
(Platts)

Electric Companies Jump On Push For New Gas Pipeline
(Hartford Courant)

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
(Nashua Telegraph)


Posted on May 5th, 2014 by

Posted In: Uncategorized