New England is facing power generation capacity shortfalls ahead of what is projected to be a colder than normal winter. We round up what journalists, consumer advocates, industry trade groups, and grid operators across New England have to say here.
Reforms Needed to Continue on NE Electricity Market Success
Ignoring the harsh consequences of expensive energy costs that leave hard-working families struggling to stay warm this winter is not an option. Because of a lack of critical pipeline infrastructure, New England is unique among U.S. regions in importing a large portion of its natural gas supply from abroad, resulting in higher emissions and higher prices for households. Power generation owners have invested heavily in securing fuel supply and preparing equipment to meet demand this winter. But years of opposition from policymakers and activists means that the region faces an increasingly dire supply situation despite vast natural gas resources as close as Pennsylvania. It is an expensive choice that New Englanders are paying dearly for.
“[Grid operator] ISO New England has warned that an extremely cold winter could strain the reliability of the grid and potentially result in the need for rolling blackouts to keep electricity supply and demand in balance…It has warned that electricity demand could threaten to surge beyond available supply after multiple sustained periods of severely cold weather, which could result in calls for conservation similar to those issued in California in September during a regionwide heat wave.”The Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2022
The volatile mix of a growing demand for electricity and an increasing share of intermittent resources powering the system without sufficient dispatchable resources available is unsustainable. Even with a rapid transition to renewable energy sources, dispatchable resources like natural gas will be needed to ensure demand is met 24/7. The greater amount of renewables on the system necessarily means there will need to be more dispatchable resources available when demand is acute.
“The threat of rolling blackouts (in winter) is a grave issue. New Englanders already pay some of the highest energy prices in the nation. Investments in energy infrastructure are beyond critical for this region. The growing presence of intermittent sources like onshore and offshore wind in the region makes that need more acute, not less, since these resources require dispatchable resources to provide backup during poor weather conditions to ensure power keeps flowing,” Todd Snitchler, President and CEO of EPSA said.
“Experts continue to speak up on this important topic, and it is important we heed their advice before it is too late. New England’s electricity market has delivered decades of affordable and reliable power, but reforms are needed to make sure that market continues to work for consumers as the energy transition advances,” he added.
Read more about on what journalists, consumer advocates, industry trade groups, and grid operators across New England have to say below.
Print and digital versions of the full document are available here.
What They Are Saying on Grid Reliability: New England
“Europe’s acute energy crisis, the pricey winter facing New England, and California’s grid woes illustrate a need to increase production and transport of natural gas.”
Washington Examiner, September 28, 2022
Mark Brown, New England Executive Director, Consumer Energy Alliance:
“Activists don’t care that new natural gas pipelines like Access Northeast and Northeast Energy Direct would have saved hard-working families billions of dollars every year and enhanced the electric grid’s reliability. They would have cut CO2 emissions, too… How? Because on the cold days we get too often in New England, higher-emitting power plants have to run to keep the lights on. The regional grid operator, ISONew England, has repeatedly reported emissions increases in colder months when coal is used to generate electricity, instead of natural gas.”
Boston Herald, October 1, 2022
Amy Andryszak, President and CEO, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America:
“Inadequate fuel supplies and the related price spikes and reliability concerns are unfortunately nothing new to anyone living in New England — a region infamous for having the highest energy costs in the nation.”
Boston Herald, September 8, 2022
Gordon van Welie, CEO, ISO New England:
“During the coldest days of the year, New England does not have sufficient pipeline infrastructure to meet the region’s demand for natural gas for both home heating and power generation.”
Boston Herald, September 8, 2022
ISO New England:
“New England has become increasingly reliant on natural gas and vulnerable to disruptions in fuel supplies to the region. ISO-NE is considering capacity market enhancements to procure resources needed to maintain reliability during periods of extreme natural gas scarcity. Nonetheless, efficient day-ahead and real-time market performance will also help maintain reliability during winter conditions while minimizing
costs to consumers.”
2021 Assessment of the ISO New England Electricity Markets, June 2022
Dan Byers, Vice President, Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Global Energy Institute:
“Simply put, natural gas pipelines that could bring abundant gas supplies from Appalachia’s Marcellus shale region have been blocked at every turn over many years. This has major implications for energy markets in New England, especially in winter. When cold weather strikes, demand for both electricity
and heating go up in concert. New England is highly dependent upon natural gas for both, and without sufficient supplies to meet demand, grid operators must turn to fuel oil (which does not face infrastructure constraints) to keep the lights on.”
Real Clear Energy, February 18, 2022
North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC):
“In New England, limited natural gas pipeline capacity leads to a reliance on fuel oil and imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) to meet winter peak loads. Limited natural gas pipeline capacity and lack of redundancy is a concern for electric reliability in normal winter and a serious risk in a long-duration, extreme cold conditions.”
NERC 2021 Long-Term Reliability Assessment, December 2021
“As in years past, New England is among the most vulnerable regions this winter, given its heavy reliance on natural gas as an electricity and heating source and limited pipeline capacity.”
Politico, October 20, 2022