Thanks to years of left-wing environmentalism in the New England states, energy suppliers are now struggling to fulfill the demands of local residents seeking to merely stay warm during this intense winter. After the snow melts, will liberal New England residents have a change of heart about shutting down the sources of energy that are needed to keep their homes, schools, and businesses heated?
The Hartford Courant reported, “Officials at ISO-New England, operators of the region’s power grid, said energy demands during the recent arctic weather have placed major pressures on energy generators, forcing power companies to rely more on coal and oil to produce electricity.”
Daily Caller – While New England’s power grid operator predicted it would have enough energy supplies to meet demand this winter, it admitted there could be problems if record-low temperatures set in.
“While New England has adequate capacity resources to meet projected demand, a continuing concern involves the availability of fuel for those power plants to generate electricity when needed,” grid operator ISO New England reported in November.
“During extremely cold weather, natural gas pipeline constraints limit the availability of fuel for natural-gas-fired power plants,” the grid operator noted.
That’s exactly what is happening right now.
Unrelenting cold since late December has caused energy demand to spike, pushing up prices and straining supplies. New England power companies are struggling to keep up with demand.
New England’s current energy woes are the result of years of state and federal policies aimed at closing coal and oil-fired power plants, largely as part of the region’s effort to fight global warming.
In 2000, New England got about 18 percent of its electricity from coal plants. Now, the region gets around 3 percent — though it’s jumped to 6 percent in the recent cold snap.
CT reports that The Courant further noted that though energy industry officials have for years recommended that New England fix its energy problems by, at the very least, constructing new natural gas pipelines, such proposals have “been blocked or withdrawn” mainly because of opposition from environmental groups.
State and federal regulations haven’t helped either. Speaking of which, these very regulations could now pose a major concern for locals.
“Environmental limitation on how much, or whether, some oil-fired power plants will be able to generate electricity could become a concern this week and for the remainder of the winter,” explained ISO-New England spokeswoman Marcia Blomberg in an email to Boston station WCVB.
In May 2017, the last remaining coal power plant was shut down in Massachusetts. The shut down was devastating for the town of Somerset, who relied on the coal industry for their survival.
“Coal is the past,” Emily Norton, Chapter Director for the Massachusetts Chapter of the Sierra Club, said in a statement. “Clean energy is the future. With 100,000 Massachusetts workers now employed in the clean energy industry, we know that this transition is good for our health, good for our economy, and good for our kids as they graduate and seek stable, good-paying jobs.”
WGBH– Conservation Law Foundation President Bradley Campbell pointed out the shutdown coincides with President Trump’s expected announcement that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. “Despite the President’s best efforts, fossil fuels are on their way out,” he said. “Brayton Point’s closure means Massachusetts is now coal-free, and the rest of New England will follow. We have the opportunity to lead the world in moving to a clean energy platform, but only if we fight the push by utilities and their allies to saddle New England with a new generation of natural gas pipes and plants the region does not need and families and businesses cannot afford.”
The closure is a financial hit for the town of Somerset. Brayton Point was the town’s biggest taxpayer– contributing around $14 million a year at its peak. Town Administrator Richard Brown said for the last couple years the plant has paid the town $4,250,000.
“It was a considerable part of the budget and it allowed… a small town to provide services that were equal to anything provided in a major urban area, and at a fairly low tax rate,” he said.
The closure also means a loss of jobs in the area. The plant had about 170 employees. Dynegy says it has hired some of those workers in other plants and is providing career training for other workers.
Writing for Scientific American four years ago, Lindsey Konkel explained how “(s)tringent environmental regulations and a steep drop in the cost of natural gas” spurred officials in New England to push away from coal and embrace natural gas.
“In 2000, coal accounted for roughly 18 percent of the region’s electricity generation while natural gas accounted for about 15 percent,” she wrote. “In 2012, just 3 percent of New England’s electricity was generated by coal, while 52 percent came from natural gas.”
While the increased reliance on natural gas isn’t a bad thing, the decreased reliance on coal is. What’s ironic is that liberals have complained about the gas as well.
“Natural gas is killing coal plants, but more natural gas infrastructure may be adverse to health and climate in the long run,” Konkel quoted N. Jonathan Peres, an attorney for the Boston-based Conservation Law Foundation.
This is why multiple pipeline projects have been killed over the past few years, including one that “would have expanded an existing New England pipeline and was expected to save customers $1 billion a year,” as noted by the Daily Caller.