Cold winters testing limits of US energy grid

“The arctic air that has frozen the northeastern U.S. over the first weeks of 2018 has prompted New Englanders to crank up the heat and New England’s utility companies to scramble for fuel,”

writes Jordan McGillis.

“This season’s above-average heating and electricity demand has tested grid reliability,” McGillis writes, “(but) ISO New England’s analysis reveals that in winters to come fuel insecurity will plague the region.”

Here are a few excerpts from the article:

Insecurity despite abundance

Though the resources are close at hand, a combination of laws and regulations has made New England dependent upon natural gas, yet unable to access all that it needs.

Pipeline paucity

On Jan. 23, ISO New England CEO Gordon van Welie testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that, “when it gets cold the region does not have sufficient gas infrastructure to meet demand for both home heating and power generation.” …”New England (has) the most expensive spot natural gas prices in the world — including this January.

At the barricade preventing the transport of gas from the abundant reservoirs of Pennsylvania and West Virginia to New England is the state government of New York….  New York politicians have put the brakes on pipeline projects through their permitting power, blocking the Constitution and Northern Access pipelines outright.

The hostility to pipelines is so pervasive in the northeast that ISO New England takes that bleak view that “no new incremental gas infrastructure will be built to serve power generation.”

The Jones Act 

With state governments blocking new pipeline construction to bring in affordable shale gas, New England buys liquefied natural gas (LNG) transported by sea….

But domestic shipping of LNG is made impossible by the obtuse Merchant Marine Act of 1920 — commonly called the Jones Act. The Jones Act mandates that only American-built, -owned, -crewed and -flagged vessels can participate in maritime shipping between domestic ports.

The Congressional Research Service has found that the Jones Act results in American vessels operating at twice the cost of comparable foreign ships.

The cold truth

“….despite unprecedented domestic energy production, New Englanders will soon find themselves out in the cold.

Jordan McGillis is a policy analyst at the Institute for Energy Research, a nonprofit focused on free-market energy and environmental research and policy. 

See entire article:

Thanks to Dean Koehler for this link

3 thoughts on “Cold winters testing limits of US energy grid

  1. and down south in Houston, I’m going to go the entire month of January without using the A/C, I do not remember doing that before. hitting 80 or 85 once or twice a month during the winter is normal as the gulf of mexico is 50 miles away and usually pushes back northern fronts; not this winter.

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