This link https://www.iso-ne.com/isoexpress/ shows in graphs and charts what feel-good energy policy looks like on a frigid winter day.
We already “got off of oil” largely by switching to cleaner natural gas. 30 years ago oil accounted for over a quarter of Maine's electricity generation. Even as we closed Maine Yankee we started to get off oil, and by 2012 oil generated less than half a percent of Maine electricity. Natural gas generation climbed to 60 percent.
The real time pie chart shows how on cold winter days we are consistently using oil for at least 25 percent of generation. Mothballed coal plants are also firing up, quadrupling their normal generation. And New England spot prices leap tenfold from 30 dollars to 300/MWH!
Today’s wholesale electricity spot price in Western New York is $33/MWH or less and Hydro Quebec at the New York border is selling for $10.80 MWH.
Gas is plentiful just past New England. While our neighbors pay some of the lowest worldwide prices for natural gas, New England pays some of the highest. Our Algonquin Citygate Spot price for gas is $20/MMBTU today which is down from $30/MMBTU yesterday. The Henry Hub Spot price for the rest of the country is only $3/MMBTU today. Our exorbitant cost is all about the pipelines. No pipelines = No Gas.
Because gas is being used heavily by sectors other than electricity, like heating and manufacturing, the gas fired power plants cannot answer the call, necessitating our reliance on coal and oil plants that we ratepayers also pay billions annually just to sit ready.
Why can’t we get enough natural gas? Because Massachusetts feels good about ruining Maine Mountains with billions of dollars worth of low performing wind turbines (see chart: generating one percent today) while simultaneously refusing to allow expansion of crucial gas pipelines in the Bay State. All this while Maine policy makers apparently embrace our becoming a wind plantation.
Bad for the ratepayers, clean air, the economy and the environment. But the nimbys in Massachusetts feel good.