While temperatures this low this early in the winter is unusual, it isn't unheard of. Tying them together with the big honking Nor'easter we experienced has merely made those well below average temperatures even more daunting because it's very difficult to spend time clearing away the snow. And that brings us to another problem – energy.
The one thing that has had anyone in the know here in New England to worry has been energy, specifically natural gas and electricity. At one point New England had many nuclear power plants which provided a large percentage of its electricity. A number of those have now closed. The same is true of a number of coal and oil-fired power plants. What has replaced some of that now off-line capacity has been natural gas-fired dual cycle power plants. They burn cleaner than either coal or oil plants and they can throttle up and down easily, something that nuclear plants can't do. But they do have one problem: they require natural gas in order to operate. That's the crux of New England's energy problem.
New England doesn't have the pipeline capacity to provide enough natural gas to feed both power plants and provide heat to residences and businesses. Due to bitterly cold winters like this one has been so far, ISO New England has stated that there may be issues with being able to meet the electrical demand because there may not be enough natural gas to go around. With a number of nuclear plants now in the process of being decommissioned and coal and oil plants also being dismantled, switching to anything other than natural gas is problematic. The natural gas supply situation is such that quite often natural has to be imported from Yemen on huge LNG tankers at a huge cost. That's ironic considering the US is now the largest producer of natural gas on the planet.
What would be the answer to solving this particular problem? That's simple: build more gas pipelines into New England. It solves a number of problems, drops the cost of both electricity and heating, and ensures the lights and heat will remain on during extremely cold weather like we've been experiencing since Christmas. Makes sense, right?
Too bad that virtue-signaling pseudo-greens and renewable energy con-men have decided we don't need no stinkin' pipelines. In fact they've fought tooth and nail to keep two major natural gas pipelines from being built, all in the name of 'saving' the Earth. That it helps the virtue-signalers feel good about themselves for preventing something they have no desire to understand while at the same time helping the renewable energy confidence men reap a huge payoff because they can prevent their competition from solving their supply problems has absolutely nothing to do with it.
New England was warned that it's pipeline constraints could cause problems and now it's happening.
“During extremely cold weather, natural gas pipeline constraints limit the availability of fuel for natural-gas-fired power plants,” the grid operator [ISO New England] noted.Who will be the first to complain should a power shortage cause ISO New England to resort to rolling blackouts? The very same people who did everything in their power to make sure natural gas supplies were strangled. The very same people who have worked so hard to kill nuclear power. The very same people who are working hard to make sure that transmission lines that would bring inexpensive and renewable hydropower from Canada will never be built.
That’s exactly what is happening right now.
Unrelenting cold since late December has caused energy demand to spike, pushing up prices and straining supplies. New England power companies are struggling to keep up with demand.
New England’s current energy woes are the result of years of state and federal policies aimed at closing coal and oil-fired power plants, largely as part of the region’s effort to fight global warming.
In 2000, New England got about 18 percent of its electricity from coal plants. Now, the region gets around 3 percent — though it’s jumped to 6 percent in the recent cold snap.
Most of the shuttered capacity has been replaced by natural gas, but pipeline capacity has not kept up with demands from power plants.
Gas supply constraints have made New England the the world’s most expensive power market. Some power plants have taken to burning oil to generate power, but supplies are running low. Federal air quality regulations are also keeping power plants from burning more fuel.
Perhaps they should be the ones to bear the brunt of their closeminded shortsightedness by being the first to get their power cut and last to get it restored should rolling blackouts come to be. Let them bear the burden of what they've wrought.