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Several Power Plant Closures Will Challenge New England’s Supply

Paul Nastu

New England Power Plants

A 41-year old nuclear power plant in Vernon, Vt. that will soon shut down will impact the gas and electricity market in New England, predicts a report by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), which is part of the Department of Energy. The 604 megawatt plant owned by Enterenergy is one among several that will close in the next few years in the region, challenging its power supply.

In the next three years, New England will see 1, 369 MW of generation being retired as plants age. The closures will have more of an impact on the region than they would elsewhere — while it relies more heavily on natural gas now (52 percent) than it did 10 years ago (30 percent), pipeline constraints have limited supply, which has led to price spikes during the peak winter months when gas is used for heating as well as generating electricity.

Last year, natural gas was the marginal fuel which set the price for operating generators — so a price rise for wholesale natural gas would contribute to a similar hike in wholesale power price.

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant will be shut down towards the end of 2014, once it reaches the end of its fuel cycle, because it faces shrinking profitability because of low electricity rates and a big capital outlay. It represents four percent of the region’s power supply. The station will remain under the oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission throughout the decommissioning process.

Another plant that will close next year is a 750 MW coal- and petroleum-fired plant in Salem Harbor, Massachusetts that is owned by Dominion Energy Resources. Declining profits and the costs of complying with environmental regulations will force it to shut down.

The EIA notes that nearly 1,200 MW of new wind power and natural gas plants that will come online in the next couple years will compensate for these closures. The region also imports large amounts of electricity from Hydro-Quebec in Canada that should offset the closures, but the transmission system will need upgrades to accommodate larger import quantities.

 

 

 



7 comments on “Several Power Plant Closures Will Challenge New England’s Supply

  1. One can ONLY hope that the beautiful New England landscape get’s turned into a field of giant mechanical, bird killing, wind denzions. ; so those folks can enjoy the beauty imposed upon our beautiful Columbia River Gorge!

  2. One can and does hope for more windmills to be built; both in New England and elsewhere. More in the Columbia River gorge would be another wonderful addition to the area.
    And BTW, windmills kill FAR fewer birds than do automobiles, fewer than do household cats, and fewer than do buildings.

  3. I say “Go For It”! I would suggest starting to install these generating wonders off the coast of Cape Cod, Hyannis would be a great location! The folks there would love them and would help keep down the gull population.

  4. AND – just to add a little more “wind” to the fire:

    “WASHINGTON (AP) — A new study by government scientists says wind energy facilities have killed at least 67 golden and bald eagles in the last five years, but the number could be much higher.
    The research represents one of the first tallies of eagle deaths attributed to the nation’s growing wind energy industry. A total of 85 eagles were killed at wind farms since 1997, the study concludes, but most of those occurred in 2008-2012…”

    • Yes, I saw that study. I have also seen the following study that indicates just how small the windmill bird kill rate is when compared to other man-made structures and practices: http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/documents/psw_gtr191/psw_gtr191_1051-1064_manville.pdf. Regarding Altamont pass, this source says that a total of several hundred birds per year may be killed in the immediate vicinity of six thousand five hundred wind turbines – not a very high mortality rate, is it?
      Compare that to the millions of birds killed every year by simply running into tall buildings and power lines, being hit by cars, being killed by cats, etc. And then add in the millions more who are killed or who are born deformed due to mercury in the environment – mercury that is put there in large part by the burning of coal in conventional power plants. If we switched entirely from burning coal to reliance on windmills, birds would benefit tremendously.

  5. And here is some of what AWEA has to say in response to that AP wire story about eagle mortality and windmills:
    “fatalities of golden eagles at modern wind facilities represent only 2 percent of all documented sources of human caused eagle fatalities, while only a few bald eagles have died in collisions in the history of the industry. This figure is far lower than eagle fatalities due to other leading causes, including lead poisoning, poisoning in general, electrocutions, collisions with vehicles, drowning in stock tanks, and illegal shootings.”
    “This study examined population data throughout the range of golden eagles over the past four decades (i.e., 1968-2010) and found that the population has, in general, remained stable, and in fact slightly increased overall.”
    “Ultimately, the story exaggerates the point of view of less credible opponents of wind power. It omits mainstream bird conservation groups such as National Audubon Society and National Wildlife Federation, which support developing more wind power because it helps avoid the vastly greater wildlife impacts of other forms of energy.”
    Check it out for yourself:
    http://aweablog.org/blog/post/what-ap-left-out-of-its-latest-story-on-eagles-and-wind-power

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