Imports Jump as New England Power Crisis Looms
Energy imports took a big jump last year and will comb even higher next winter as New England continues to close down power plants without doing anything to replace them.
Imports from Canada and New York jumped last year to nearly 20 terrawatt-hours, 1/7th of the region's consumption. Even so, this barely compensated for the loss of coals and oil plants. Now the 745-megawatt Salem Harbor coal-and-oil has been shut down and Vermont Yankee, with its 600 megawatts, is scheduled to be shuttered by the end of the year. Brayton Point, the last remaining coal plant, will close down in 2017.
All this means greater reliance on natural gas but the region is short of pipeline capacity and the public and politicians are resisting new pipeline construction as well. "We can do better than a pipeline," said Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren recently, although she didn't specify exactly what.
The imports are almost entirely hydroelectricity from Canada although a small segment now comes from New York's Indian Point Nuclear Station as well. But transmission lines from Canada are now getting overloaded. Hydro Quebec is trying to build a new Northern Gateway line through New Hampshire but the public is resisting that as well.
If cold weather returns this winter, New England may be on the verge of a self-generated power crisis.