Results for "fire" in Library filed under Energy Policy from New Hampshire
New England’s power grid is in good shape now and home solar and energy efficiency efforts mean the region’s annual demand for electricity is projected to decline, according to the grid’s operators. But there are also problems ahead.
Clean tech energy advocates – worried about the effect a cantankerous legislative process was having on the burgeoning technology in New Hampshire – may have been somewhat relieved by NH Sen. Jeb Bradley’s words at this year’s NH Energy Summit in Concord. “I am ready for a bit of a break on energy this year,” he said at the Tuesday gathering.
Backers of gas generation countered that renewables are benefiting from government-backed subsidies and long-term contracts that threaten to reintroduce government-mandated integrated resource planning. ...state policies are giving renewables undue advantage and undermining conventional generators’ investments in the market.
"Subsidizing an overdependence on one foreign government-owned source of electricity will lead to lost jobs and soaring energy bills for decades to come," said Dan Dolan, the group's president....Hydro-Quebec would use increased U.S. exports to subsidize lower prices for its provincial customers, in turn costing New England ratepayers an estimated $20 billion over 25 years.
Washington -- Aggressive energy efficiency efforts and new distributed generation capacity -- virtually all of it in the form of solar projects -- are combining to put a lid on growth in peak demand and electric use in New England, ISO New England said in its newly released 2015 Regional System Plan.
New England’s most populous states are looking to tap Canadian dams and rivers for more of their electricity, a change that officials say would help cut greenhouse-gas emissions and help keep some of the nation’s highest power prices in check.
Flanagan said the program has created a slush fund used to balance the state budget, more than encouraging renewables. The state Legislature in 2013 grabbed more than $17 million from the Renewable Energy Fund to balance the budget and bail out the financially troubled Tri-County Community Action program in the North Country, leaving a balance of $7.8 million for renewable energy grants and rebates.
Nearly half of New England’s electricity is now generated by natural gas, compared with just 15 percent in 2000. But officials say the region doesn’t have the pipeline infrastructure to match the need. The problems arise during the winter, when electric power generators and home heating companies are both vying for natural gas, which is funneled to the region through pipelines coming from the Pennsylvania area.
Clearly, the time has come for solar and wind to compete on their own with coal and nuclear power, without state mandates or subsidies. Ohio recently rolled back its renewable mandate, freezing the phasing in of power that utilities must buy from renewable energy sources. New Hampshire should do the same.
Developers are pitching plans, and are now offering states handsome “benefits packages” in seeking their support. In addition, states could earn millions from new property or infrastructure taxes, the leasing of existing right-of-ways and financial returns on public investment in the lines. But these assurances aren’t enough, according to Kerrick Johnson, vice president of Vermont Electric Power Co., or VELCO.
The underlying issue in New England is that gas pipeline capacity is inadequate to keep prices steady in times of high home heating demand, said Vamsi Chadalavada, executive vice president and chief operating officer of ISO New England. ISO is leading a study focused mainly on reliability, but reliability is intertwined with price, he said.
Last week, the New England Governors' Conference raised green fantasy to new heights with the release of its Renewable Energy Blueprint, which said the region "has a significant quantity of untapped renewable resources, on the order of over 10,000 MW combined of on-shore and off-shore wind power potential." Neither the report nor the news articles about it bothered to do the math. At 7 MW, New England would need 1,429 E-126s to tap that potential. Though the turbines likely would be clustered in "farms," that's an average of 238 per state, or more than one for each town in Connecticut. The cost would be $221 billion that the states don't have, though they might get a bulk-purchase discount of a billion or two.
While we all want a future that includes renewable energy sources, such as wood, wind and solar, we continue to face many challenges. Capital for many of these projects has been reduced or eliminated as a result of our deepening economic problems, and time lines for siting and permitting renewable energy projects can take up to seven years. This should not be an excuse to stop the charge to create new renewable energy, but it should cause alarm for decision makers considering policies that undermine the effort to clean up our existing power plants -- or worse, shut them down.
Rep. Fred King, a Colebrook Republican and a member of the county planning board, which oversees land use in the unincorporated areas, said the county delegation and commissioners have endorsed the wind project. But, he said, he has made it his "mission in life" to see the transmission line upgraded so biomass plants, which would create more long-term jobs and sustain the region's history of logging, can be built, too. "It's safe to say, if we did get to vote on it and we had the two to pick from (biomass and wind), my guess is we'd probably vote for the biomass plant," he said.
This extended news piece addresses efforts to bring renewable generation to northern New England.
A way to open up the state's logjam in building renewable energy projects could come out of a proposed 10-state regional greenhouse initiative. According to the Public Utilities Commission, the North Country needs a power line upgrade in the $200-million range to help developers build hundreds of megawatts of future wind farms and biomass electricity plants. Those could meet most of the state's goal of producing 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025. Until they win approval or drop out, those projects at the head of the line are blocking plans for a 600-megawatt gas-fired plant somewhere in Rockingham County. The would-be developer is unidentified on the Web site of the ISO-New England electric grid. The federal approval process accepts applicants on a first-come, first served basis.
A newly released state Public Utilties Commission report says that, under current federal regulations, New Hampshire can expect no fiscal help from the rest of New England to upgrade power lines in Coos County. The power lines would required to fulfill the supply created by several proposed renewable energy power plants in the region. According to the report, it would take a change in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rules to make Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and the rest of the ISO-New England power grid share the cost to beef up the closed transmission loop that runs through Littleton, Berlin and Whitefield. Any change in policy at that level would take years to effect, if it is even possible
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.
Several new North Country energy projects are in the works, but questions remain on how to transmit to homes and businesses the power they would generate. Experts at an ad hoc energy stakeholders meeting held Oct. 16 at the State House in Concord generally agreed that construction on several proposed wind farms and wood-fired power plants in Coos County will take three to four years - and perhaps longer if New Hampshire hopes to convince other New England states to cover 90 percent of the costs. ...Donna Gamache of PSNH said the hard part is guessing which players are serious and have the stamina to wait out the regulatory approval process. She said what she called "the California model" would may be "the easiest way to absorb the risk." In California, a regional electric grid underwrote the cost to transmit new solar and geothermal power to the populated coast in the hopes that future developers would pay their share as they hooked into the lines. If PSNH tackles a project like that without state help, experts fear ratepayers would eat the stranded costs if too few plants came on line.
The lack of necessary infrastructure means that Coos County won't see ground-breaking anytime soon on hundreds of megawatts generated by proposed wind farms and wood-fired power plants. According to Public Service of New Hampshire officials, the utility's big loop of transmission lines from Littleton to Berlin and back can handle only 100 megawatts more of production before somebody has to pay big bucks to boost the capacity. Nobody knows who will fund that infrastructure, and the uncertainty has thrown off the financing for some of the dozen New Hampshire power plants lined up for future review by the state Public Utilities Commission.