Dan Dolan, the president of the New England Power Generators Association, says the wholesale electricity market is facing an existential crisis, failing to meet the needs of the six New England states and the region’s electricity generators, whom he represents. “The direction we’re moving in with out-of-market contracts for renewable energy and special contracts for reliability is putting the risk right back on ratepayers...................
New England states began offering subsidies and tax breaks to make solar and wind power more affordable. This year Massachusetts went much further, signing 20-year contracts committing the state’s electricity customers to pay for large-scale offshore wind and hydroelectricity projects. The prices were so attractive that lawmakers on Beacon Hill shouted, “more, more, more!”
As van Welie was struggling to come up with a way to deal with these large, out-of-market clean energy procurements, he faced another challenge. Natural gas, plentiful and relatively cheap most of the year, became scarce during prolonged cold spells when a combination of strong demand for gas for heating and limited pipeline capacity made it difficult for power generators to get the gas they needed to operate their plants. Suddenly, the market’s reliance on natural gas became a big problem. Last winter, for example, the combination of a 15-day severe cold spell and the pipeline constraints on natural gas forced generators to burn 2 million barrels of oil, far more than they burned in all of 2016 and 2017 combined...........................New Hampshire and Maine say Massachusetts environmental policies are creating the fuel security problem...................................In a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Maine notes how Massachusetts has blocked construction of a new natural gas pipeline into the region. Both states say new Massachusetts environmental regulations that took effect on January 1 require Bay State power plants to steadily ratchet down their greenhouse gas emissions, making it difficult for those facilities with dual-fuel capability to shift to oil when gas is scarce.
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