FERC decision a boost to renewable energy in New England

Decision a boost to renewable energy in
New England

The New England power grid will soon become the first in the country to include renewable generation as part of the bidding process by power supply owners to provide energy three years down the road.

In a 56-page ruling issued on March 9, the five-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the plan, with one member dissenting.

The idea that state-sponsored renewable energy projects, like the Massachusetts request for proposals that was initially won by Northern Pass, would compete with nuclear, oil or coal-fired power plants in the market for future capacity was considered free-market heresy not long ago.

But with New England states promoting and subsidizing renewable energy in a variety of ways, the operator of the regional power grid, ISO-NE, proposed a way to integrate renewable generation into what is called the Forward Capacity Auction — an annual event in which power supply owners bid on the price ISO will have to pay them to guarantee they’ll be around three years down the road.

The collective cost to ratepayers of securing that “future capacity” had hovered around $1 billion a year since 2010. It shot up to $3 billion in 2017 and in 2018 will hit $4 billion.

The power plants will get that money in addition to whatever profit they make from the actual sale of electricity.

The owners of the Seabrook Station nuclear power plant, for example, will get $143 million in 2018 from New England ratepayers just for promising to stay on line.

The Merrimack Station coal-fired plant in Bow, recently sold off by Eversource, only runs during the coldest days of the year, yet will still receive payments totaling $50.7 million this year.

The high cost of this “insurance” for future energy supply is attributed to the fact that the supply of electricity in the region is diminishing as old plants retire and new projects can’t get off the ground, all while energy demand is increasing.

The Competitive Auctions with Sponsored Policy Resources (CASPR) proposed by ISO and now approved by FERC adds a new twist to the acquisition of future power supply for the region.

CASPR will enable state-sponsored hydro, wind, solar or biomass projects to buy out the forward capacity contracts of fossil fuel or nuclear plants whose owners want to retire them earlier than the existing capacity contract would allow.

The trade association representing power plant owners supports the change, albeit with reservations.

According to the FERC order, “The New England Power Generators Association asserts that the entry of subsidized resources will still put downward pressure on auction clearing prices, but nonetheless supports CASPR as a measure made necessary by the New England states’ increasing interest in subsidizing certain resources to carry out clean, renewable and alternative energy laws.”

Commissioner Robert F. Powelson dissented in the 4-1 vote.

“The two goals that CASPR tries to achieve are fundamentally in conflict and cannot coexist in one market,” he wrote.

Powelson predicted that state-subsidized renewable generation would benefit, while the incentives for private investors to build new power plants or keep old ones operating will be constrained.


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Comment by Eric A. Tuttle on March 20, 2018 at 1:02pm

In the past, this may have been optional, however now that FERC is involved it may become Mandatory, where it most likely can only be resolved in Federal Court or even the Supreme court. --- Given the political shift of what once was the democratic party toward Globalism, any issue may be a concern of a World Court. If this happens, the U.S. will have laid down its Sovereignty Rights of Recognition as a Government where we as a Nation will eventually be required submit to world opinion and lay down our defenses. (the plan was to have a 27 member council, with one chair, as the leader (Hillary's objective, as described to her by Saul David Alinsky))


Comment by arthur qwenk on March 20, 2018 at 12:57pm

Science 101 review. You cannot replace baseload reliability of energy generators with intermittent sources such as wind and maintain reliability and modernity with cost effectiveness, ever.

Dense fossil fuels rule . The more dense sources are attempted to be replaced by non-dense ones, the more there will be issues. The higher the prices will go for consumers and  the more businesses in New England who require energy cost effectiveness will leave. 

The Green dreamers , politicians and left wing paid off corporate enviros (like NRCM) are now creating this chaos with no concern for the average citizen or their  pocket book, or for modernity.

And just think, vast amounts of dense natural gas are just a few hundred miles away, if Mass,. Coumo and others would only allow the lines into Maine. Why freeze?.... because of the Green Left Wing  ideology who are devoid of science?

Comment by Dan McKay on March 20, 2018 at 12:25pm

Sounds like a "cover up " alright, Penny

Comment by Penny Gray on March 20, 2018 at 12:21pm

This madness will continue until the economy or the grid, or both, collapses.  Nuclear will be the demon until it becomes, along with hydro, the only grid scale clean power source.  Yesterday I passed the "solar farm" next to I-95 in Waterville and the lower half of the panels were covered in snow and ice.  There's a huge disconnect between reality and "Green Land".

Comment by Dan McKay on March 20, 2018 at 12:05pm

   A little bit of fake news there. Renewables have always been able to bid into the forward market and many wind projects currently receive capacity payments albeit at a fraction of it's nameplate capacity.

   The amended program is in response to PPA's which gives renewables advantage over traditional generators in that they receive a guaranteed payment as long as they are used to meet load, which they do by bidding into the market at low or zero prices, thus enabling them to get a guaranteed payment. They also lowball bid offers into the forward capacity market which lowers prices given traditional and reliable generation and forces them out of the market( retirement )
     ISO-NE is between a rock and a hard place. They have to balance State sponsored renewables which distort market principles with new rules to try to keep things fair.

Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."



Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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