How long will NH continue to have fossil fuel generators?
Granite Shore Power receives ISO-NE payments simply for keeping power plants available
Will New Hampshire continue to burn coal and oil to produce electricity? And for how long?
Those are questions for Granite Shore Power, a conglomerate of 18 companies that in January 2018 bought five fossil fuel plants from Eversource for $175 million.
The plants — Merrimack Station in Bow, Schiller Station in Portsmouth, Newington Station in Newington and two small jet fuel plants in the North Country — have a total generating capacity of slightly over 1,000 megawatts, and with the purchase, Granite Shore had the obligation to keep them running for 18 months. That obligation ended last month — yet the plants are still running.
There are also economic and environmental questions for the rest of the state and the region, which are trying to get off fossil fuels, particularly coal, to avoid contributing to climate change.
In those 18 months, the plants — most of which run intermittently — emitted the same amount of greenhouse gases as all the cars in New Hampshire produce in a year.
How long will the plants’ operation continue? The company would only say it would “continue to participate … in the power generation market providing a secure, cost-efficient source of power generation to New England on its most vulnerable days.”
But actions speak louder than words. Last February, Granite Shore bid into the forward capacity market. That means it told the ISO-New England, which operates the regional electricity grid — it intends to keep the plants open until May 2023.
And it said it would continue to participate in future auctions. In return, ISO-NE will pay them a lot.
From January 2018 to May 2023, ISO-NE will shell out more than $400 million just to make sure it can rely on the plants to produce power in periods of extreme peak demand and weak supply — the coldest days of the winter and the hottest days of the summer. And that’s on top of what it gets on the market for the electricity they actually produce.