The headline of a recent Keene Sentinel editorial sums it up pretty well: Energy choices are becoming fewer, harder. In some cases, energy producers are reversing course because of the quickly and dramatically shifting landscape.
As we’ve discussed for several months, the need for new sources of energy is increasing while the drive to develop those sources is lagging. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s a wind farm, a gas pipeline, or a hydropower transmission project—the tendency to say “no” is at odds with the majority of voices who are asking “how can we make this work?”
While the lessons of last winter are still emerging, we’re getting ready for what the Sentinel calls “another winter of our discontent.” In that spirit, we thought it would be helpful to take a bird’s eye view at some the many energy projects being considered which could get us closer to solving the region’s energy challenges.
Northeast Energy Direct Project – This proposed extension of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline would increase the flow of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale region into New England via a new pipeline that would extend 180 miles across Massachusetts, with a small portion extending into southern New Hampshire. Advocates say the plan is just what the region needs to alleviate the constraints that limit cold-weather access to fuel. Opponents’ concerns range from what the pipeline will do to property values, to potential environmental and safety hazards, to umbrage with the fracking process used to extract the gas.
Ridgeline wind farms – Two proposals to build wind farms on New England mountain tops were recently withdrawn from consideration. Developers for both the Seneca Mountain Wind project in Vermont and the Wild Meadows wind project in New Hampshire pulled the plug on their respective proposals, citing, in part, a lack of community support. Wind, in theory, remains a popular renewable resource and makes up about 40 percent of the projects in the queue at ISO-New England.
Cape Wind – More than 10 years after it was announced, the Cape Wind project has yet to begin construction, but is inching closer with the developers hiring a lead contractor. The proposed offshore wind farm for Nantucket Sound would generate more than 450 megawatts of electricity from 130 turbines. Cape Wind has had steady opposition from some residents and groups; most notably, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. Off-shore wind proposals are gaining ground, however, with the federal government recently announcing it would lease hundreds of thousands of ocean acres for such projects.
Northern Pass – The 187 mile long high-voltage transmission line would carry 1,200 megawatts of hydropower from Canada to a substation in Deerfield, New Hampshire, where the energy would enter the New England grid. Supporters say the vast amount of clean energy would help the region begin to replace the significant amount of generation that’s retiring, reduce carbon emissions, and stabilize energy costs. Opposition has focused primarily on the potential visual impacts of the line.
There are many other proposals of different sizes and sources and in various stages of development. As New England continues to look for ways to solve its emerging energy crisis, building consensus in the face of opposition will be one of the region’s biggest challenges.
Sentinel Editorial Energy choices are becoming fewer, harder
Owner pulls plug on sale of Maine’s largest power plant
(Portland Press Herald)
Plans for tariffs on New England’s electricity market just hit a new roadblock
(Boston Business Journal)
Natural gas: Massachusetts is ground zero for Northeast’s pipeline fight
(Christian Science Monitor)
Seneca Kills Wind Project
(Vermont Public Radio)
Cape Wind inks construction pacts
At Five Year Mark, Vineyard Power Gains Foothold in Alternative Energy Race
Opinion: The Northern Pass project is important to New England