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REPORT: New England Faces More Blackouts As Power Plants Close, Pipelines scuttled

January 20, 2018

By Paul Homewood



From Climate Change Dispatch:


New England is facing an energy future of “rolling blackouts and controlled outages” by 2025 as more power plants close down and pipeline capacity continues to lag behind.

The new report by the New England’s grid operator comes after the region suffered through a frigid start to the new year that pushed up prices and strained energy supplies. It could be just a taste of the region’s future.

“Taken together, the study results suggest that New England could be headed for significant levels of emergency actions, particularly during major fuel or resource outages,” ISO New England found in a new study,

“Harder to measure are the risks to the region from brief, high-demand cold spells, which present particular logistical challenges for fuel procurement and transportation,” the study found.


ISO’s study found “retirements of power plants with stored fuel, tightening emissions restrictions, and the reliance on a fuel that may not be available when needed most are all challenging New England’s power system,” especially during extreme cold spells.

New England has increasingly become reliant on natural gas, which is mainly supplied through pipelines and liquefied natural gas imports. But without adequate pipeline capacity, power plants strain to keep the lights on.

Environmentalists have played a major role in killing pipeline projects meant to bring natural gas to the northeast. New Englanders can also thank Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the lack of pipeline capacity.

Cuomo’s taken a hardline stance against new natural gas pipelines, including those running through his state to New England. Cuomo’s blocked at least three major pipeline projects in the past two years.

As Cuomo mulls a presidential bid in 2020, he’s become more conscious of critics on his left, including environmentalists who oppose all fossil fuel pipelines.

“What New York has shown is a model for examining the potential impacts to clean water of pipelines,” Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Politico. “They’ve done it in a way that is methodical and comprehensive and sufficiently rigorous to understand what the risks are.”

New Englanders suffered through some of the highest energy costs in the world because of political opposition to more pipelines. In the future, it could mean losing power.

The region’s grid operator found “all but the most optimistic case resulted in load shedding, also known as rolling blackouts or controlled outages that disconnect blocks of customers sequentially.”

“Load shedding is implemented as a last resort to protect the grid,” ISO New England’s study found. “All but three of the single-variable cases resulted in some degree of load shedding.”

Temperatures began to drop around Christmas, and extreme cold continued through the new year. Most of the eastern U.S. saw a top five coldest start to the new year on record, which was followed by a big nor’easter storm.

But New England’s energy risks are nothing new. The region struggled to keep the heat and lights on during the 2014 “polar vortex” and an ISO report from November warned that “pipeline constraints” would “limit the availability of fuel for natural-gas-fired power plants.”

As natural gas use increases, coal- and oil-fired power plants have retired in recent years, in part due to state and federal policies favoring green energy. Federal environmental regulations have also played a role as has the drop in natural gas prices.

New England’s Pilgrim nuclear power plant is slated to close in 2019, much to the excitement of environmentalists. But again, it will put more strain on the electric grid during episodes of extreme cold.

“Fuel-security risks may be acuter in New England than in most other regions because New England is ‘at the end of the pipeline’ when it comes to the fuels used most often to generate the region’s power,” the ISO’s new study found.

“New England has no indigenous fossil fuels and therefore, fuels must be delivered by ship, truck, pipeline, or barge from distant places,” reads the report, which only analyzed an incremental increase in pipeline capacity by 2025.

  1. mwhite permalink
    January 20, 2018 12:02 pm

    They’ll blame Trump

    • January 20, 2018 1:19 pm

      Obama may have had a “phone and a pen,” but Donald has a “phone and a Twitter account.”

  2. Joe Public permalink
    January 20, 2018 12:07 pm

    “New England’s Pilgrim nuclear power plant is slated to close in 2019, much to the excitement of environmentalists.”

    Their concerns are only natural, as evidenced by the extensive radiological protection outfits worn by workers inspecting the on-site high-level waste dry-cask storage facility:

  3. January 20, 2018 1:20 pm

    Are all of you acquainted with a phrase we use here? It goes like this: “Let them freeze in the dark.”

  4. Broadlands permalink
    January 20, 2018 1:47 pm

    Fascinating that a warm polar vortex (induced by CO2?) could create record cold on both sides of the Atlantic.

    There is an old joke in Washington DC that says that…” it was so cold that the politicians had their hands in their own pockets.”

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      January 20, 2018 2:48 pm

      nice joke, suppose that if they put their hands in their back pockets that would restrict their talking!

  5. Gamecock permalink
    January 20, 2018 4:32 pm

    ‘New England is facing an energy future of “rolling blackouts and controlled outages” by 2025 as more power plants close down and pipeline capacity continues to lag behind.’

    A feature, not a bug.

    The Leftards will declare, “Capitalism has failed. People are dying. We must take over power generation. We must nationalize the power industry.”

  6. January 20, 2018 5:10 pm

    Ironically, to get around the lack of pipelines, New England utilities are having to import LNG which requires energy to cryogenically refrigerate the fuel then re-expand back to the gaseous form after it’s delivered. This doubles the cost of natural and wastes a large amount of energy to boot. But it’s still cheaper than fuel oil which is what got the utilities through the December-January cold spell this year.

  7. Gerry, England permalink
    January 20, 2018 5:55 pm

    Let us hope they enjoy their brave new green world. Our turn is not far away with more plants being closed and nobody willing to risk investing in any new generation, just as they are finding in Australia.

    • rjwooll permalink
      January 20, 2018 6:42 pm

      Yes, in all likelihood Old England too!

  8. KEB permalink
    January 25, 2018 10:21 am

    Coal and oil is the real green energy. Carbon dioxide makes the Earth green. 65% of the “green energy” here in Europe is wood, or wood pellets, that should be called black energy. They turn green forests into black soil. And all the animals in them will disappear. Thanks to all this global warming nonsense.

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