New Hampshire and Rhode Island
Nationally, demand for electricity is leveling off as residential power use falls, experts say, reversing a long upward trend. More efficient lighting and electric devices are partly credited for the change. New homes also are being built to use less electricity and government subsidies ...help older homes use less power. Rourke said the weak economy also has contributed to reduced electricity use.
A federal order issued last fall is intended to make it easier to construct transmission lines, costly and controversial projects that are notoriously tough to build.
State and regional regulators acknowledge the hurdles - especially in northern New Hampshire - but don't have ready solutions. A bill before the New Hampshire Senate would have the state be ready to act if no regional solution is forthcoming.
ISO New England, which manages power for the region, is considering changing rules so more of the costs of transmission upgrades could be shared regionally. But as things stand now, backers of projects generally must pay for upgrades needed to connect them to the system.
"None of this is a real speedy process," acknowledges Michael Harrington, senior regional policy adviser for the state Public Utilities Commission.
While paper mills close and Cabletron spins off its remnants out of state, power plants from the Seacoast to Whitefield enjoy the perks of a poorly understood, $100-million subsidy program just for energy producers. It has a bureaucratic name: the forward capacity market. ...An unidentified 600-megawatt, gas-fired power plant project somewhere in Rockingham County is blocked behind half a dozen North Country renewable energy projects in the ISO-New England regulatory queue. The waiting list policy is first-come, first-served. A plant like that would typically pay its host community $4 million or more in property taxes, with few smokestack emissions. But those wind- and wood-fired projects at the front of the line are all in limbo. The Public Service power lines in the region are too small. Most of the players can't even bid into the upcoming ISO auction, because yet-to-be-built plants have to ante millions of dollars as a sort of performance bond. And the ISO doesn't make forward capacity payments for transmission line upgrades.
New England's electricity rates, among the highest in the nation, will continue to depend almost entirely on the price of natural gas over the next two decades -- no matter what policies state leaders adopt for conserving energy and approving new kinds of power plants, according to a study being released today.
The report, by Independent System Operator New England, which runs the six-state power grid and the region's $10 billion wholesale power market, offers no hope rates will drop significantly unless the price of natural gas plummets. That's an outcome few energy investors are banking on.
Since 2000, as New England has grown more dependent on cleaner-burning natural-gas power plants, average homeowners' electric bills in Massachusetts have roughly doubled, along with an equivalent jump in the prices for wholesale natural gas. The ISO's "scenario analysis" examines 52 approaches to meeting demand for electricity through 2025, but takes no position on which are best. They include launching massive conservation efforts, building nuclear generators at existing nuclear plants, and making a huge regional push into cleaner-burning coal plants.
Regardless of which scenario is pursued, 90 percent of the time in 2020-2025 the price of gas would determine the price of electricity, the report says.
Legislators in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic passed a number of bills applying to the electric power industry, with several states committing to emissions reductions through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and other states making broad organizational changes to their regulatory processes.
A portion of the wind energy generated from newly installed wind turbines located in PEI was wheeled through PEI and New Brunswick and sold to the New England Power Pool (NEPOOL) via the international interconnection node in Keswick, N.B. The renewable energy certificates (RECs) that were generated from this transmission were sold separately to independent buyers located in the NEPOOL.
New England Energy Alliance Survey Finds Consumer Concern about Future Electricity Supplies, Desire to Choose Electricity Supplier and Support for Addressing Global Warming
New England will need to add power plants capable of generating 4,300 megawatts, and $3.4 billion of additional transmission investment, by 2015 to avoid blackouts, the region’s grid operator says.
The area will need 170 megawatts of new power before the summer of 2009 to assure adequate supplies, according to ISO New England Inc., the power grid and wholesale market operator that serves the region’s 14 million people........ If a 1,000 megawatt coal or nuclear power plant had been installed in 2005, buyers in the wholesale market would have saved $600 million in power costs, the report said.
Saying New England holds tremendous opportunity for wind energy development, Connecticut-based Noble Environmental Power today announced that it is teaming up with Vermont-based Vermont Environmental Research Associates (VERA) to explore potential windpark locations throughout the region.
Under the agreement, ISO New England will project regional power needs three years in advance and hold annual auctions to buy power resources, including new and existing power plants. Incentives would encourage private operators to respond to power system emergencies, and operators that don't make extra capacity available would face penalties.
After years of warning that New England's electric grid was on the brink of having to impose Third World-style rolling blackouts, top power officials now cautiously predict the region may have enough power for the near future.
Since February, thanks to recent policy changes, proposals for 21 new power plants that could deliver enough electricity for about 3 million homes have come before regional power grid administrators. Those include a $1.5 billion NRG Energy Inc. plan for multiple new generators in Connecticut and a single generator that would burn methane gas from a dump in Westminster, near Fitchburg.
The Holyoke -based organization that runs the six-state power grid and wholesale markets, Independent System Operator New England, plans to discuss the projects in a two-day Boston conference starting today .
``The problem we're having with all these wind farms is . . . they're proposing to put them in all the worst places," said Thomas W. French , assistant director of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. ``If they could do what the Russell Biomass plant did, which is to find a preexisting, historical industrial district, we'd be applauding them." As part of the ongoing state permitting process for the plant, French's division worked with its developers to reroute proposed power lines to reduce their impact on wildlife.
The New England power grid will have 30,345 megawatts available today - use is expected to peak at a record 28,030 megawatts, even after energy companies have put out a call for people to voluntarily reduce power consumption, she said.
WORCESTER— Absent interest in lower-priced fuels, New Englanders should brace for continued high electricity prices, the byproduct of a regional system heavily dependent on oil, natural gas and coal, the head of the region’s power grid said yesterday.
New England recorded its highest power usage in history Tuesday, according to Ken McDonnell, a spokesman for ISO New England, manager of the region's power grid. The peak, reached Tuesday afternoon, was 27,374 megawatts of power, eclipsing the previous record set on July 27, 2005, when usage reached 26,885 megawatts.
Maine's largest energy provider is forecasting record-breaking electricity use this summer, as well as a need for additional supply lines to feed an ever-increasing demand.
But a solution planned by ISO New England -- which manages electricity distribution in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont -- is being met with skepticism by Maine officials, who question the proposal's need and fairness.
Lee also warned that renewable energy sources, though desirable, were not a "silver bullet" solution. "It does leave an environmental footprint," Lee said, noting that wind energy and solar energy take up large areas of land, making it difficult to find a place to put them, especially in densely populated parts of the world.
WASHINGTON — Electricity rates threaten to follow the path of gas prices: Up.
ISO New England, the region's grid operator, is gaining support for a plan to raise electricity rates by $5 billion over four years, beginning in December. Rates would continue to rise at an undetermined click after that.