ISO N.E. chief says Mass. needs gas, power lines
Electricity in New England is becoming more dependent on natural gas and wind than it ever has been — requiring major investments in pipelines and power transmission to keep the lights on, the operator of the region’s power grid said.
ISO New England Chief Executive Officer Gordon van Welie said the power grid is in a “precarious position” during the coldest weeks of the year, as natural gas is shifted to heating homes and businesses instead of supplying power plants.
“The region will continue to be in this position until New England’s natural gas infrastructure is expanded to meet the demand for gas,” he said.
Plunging natural gas prices have shuttered oil, coal and nuclear power plants, and developers are replacing them with natural gas plants and wind farms, van Welie said.
To counter some of the closures — including Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth — Gov. Charlie Baker has supported building high-voltage power lines to bring power from northern wind farms and hydroelectric dams to southern New England — a proposal legislative leaders are expected to raise this session.
Local power companies have started proposing agreements with pipeline developers to bring more natural gas into the region.