ISO-NE chief: Winter leaves gas-reliant New England in ‘precarious’ spot
“The New England states are leading the nation in development of energy-efficiency measures and
support of clean energy resources,” van Welie said, but make no mistake: “The transformation of New England’s generation fleet is continuing unabated.”
The region is in desperate need of additional energy infrastructure, including pipelines that would meet growing demand for natural gas for both heating and power generation. In 2000, natural gas supplied just 15% of the grid’s power, but since then the total has risen to almost half — some 49%.
The retirement of Entergy’s Vermont Yankee nuclear facility in 2014 dropped nuclear’s share of New England’s generation from 34% to 30%. Because gas power plants make up 44% of the region’s generating capacity, van Welie said the availability of natural gas for power generation “has a profound impact on both grid reliability and power prices.”
Despite the gas reliance, the grid chief said New England states are “leading the nation in development of energy-efficiency measures and support of clean energy resources,” though he said the transition would require development of newer, faster and more flexible supply “that can ramp their output up and down on command to balance the variable output of these weather-dependent resources.
“Paradoxically, the current technology that can do this best is in natural-gas generators,” can Welie said. The region has two large pumped-hydro storage facilities, but and many states have launched initiatives to develop more advanced energy storage options.