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A less power-hungry New England

Energy efficiency is by no means a permanent solution, but it should be a permanent part of the solution. Sensible energy use, combined with new power resources, is the only workable answer for New England.

NEW ENGLANDERS continue to say no to new sources of electrical power at the same time they flick on the switch for more energy use. It is a formula for failure -- not just for energy-dependent consumers and businesses, but also for the region's long-term economic future.

With little willingness to site badly needed new power resources, it has become clear that the region must begin -- immediately -- to find ways to cut back electricity use at home and at work. ISO New England, as the non profit in charge of the region's bulk power system, has joined with business, consumer, and political leaders to provide the rationale and the tools for New England to become more energy efficient.

The scenario is simple: New England depends heavily on natural gas and oil to generate electricity. Power demand is rising every year, and power supply is not. Yet, communities have refused to allow liquefied natural gas terminal expansions, shutting off the region's natural gas supply and storage options and driving up... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

NEW ENGLANDERS continue to say no to new sources of electrical power at the same time they flick on the switch for more energy use. It is a formula for failure -- not just for energy-dependent consumers and businesses, but also for the region's long-term economic future.

With little willingness to site badly needed new power resources, it has become clear that the region must begin -- immediately -- to find ways to cut back electricity use at home and at work. ISO New England, as the non profit in charge of the region's bulk power system, has joined with business, consumer, and political leaders to provide the rationale and the tools for New England to become more energy efficient.

The scenario is simple: New England depends heavily on natural gas and oil to generate electricity. Power demand is rising every year, and power supply is not. Yet, communities have refused to allow liquefied natural gas terminal expansions, shutting off the region's natural gas supply and storage options and driving up costs. Development of other power system resources has received similar opposition, even a clean alternative such as a wind farm.

Obviously, there is not one answer to New England's long-term energy needs. It requires a comprehensive, regional plan projecting the region's needs and the best ways to meet them for the foreseeable future. But with so many avenues closed off in the short term, there is a simple answer to help this region control soaring power costs, avoid potential shortages during peak power use periods, and cut emissions: Reduce the amount of electricity that is used. A 5 percent reduction during high consumption hours can lower wholesale costs by an estimated $600 million a year. In contrast, a 5 percent increase in electricity use will drive up wholesale costs by $700 million a year -- a $1.3 billion swing.

Changing behavior is never easy. And a 5 percent reduction in use requires a concerted effort by all consumers -- both residential and business. ISO New England has launched TakeCharge New England, an awareness campaign asking both residential and commercial users of power to become more aware of their energy use, not only to help keep the lights on, but also to help slow down the growth of additional and costly infrastructure.

No one is being asked to do anything dramatic or unreasonable. For example, it's fairly easy to set thermostats at 76 degrees or above during the summer, and everyone should consider using energy efficient appliances and lighting.

Energy efficiency is by no means a permanent solution, but it should be a permanent part of the solution. Sensible energy use, combined with new power resources, is the only workable answer for New England.

New England can't say no forever to wind turbines or nuclear power or a better fuel delivery system. So, in the meantime, it needs to start thinking about power before it automatically hits the ``on" switch.

Gordon Van Welie is president and CEO of ISO New England.

 


Source: NEW ENGLANDERS continue to ...

JUL 26 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/3651-a-less-power-hungry-new-england
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