Peter Shattuck with the environmental advocacy group the Acadia Center echoes Ledoux’s call for deeper investments in renewables and energy efficiency, which have already created a meaningful dent in the region’s peak demand.

The ISO New England, the regional grid operator, expects energy efficiency to “dampen” normal growth in peak demand, the periods of highest electricity usage, by more than 70 percent, from 1.1 percent to .4 percent from 2020 to 2025.

“If we keep doing that [investments in energy efficiency and renewables], then the need for everything – for overbuilding our energy system to meet those peak demands – declines,” said Shattuck. “We don’t need as many power plants. We don’t need as many transmission lines. We don’t need as many pipelines.”

Shattuck said the gas pipelines were constrained indeed, but relying too much on natural gas created other issues in the energy market that made those price spikes worse.

“A lot of the generators were unprepared,” said Shattuck. “And because we had become so reliant on natural gas, when the natural gas was not available for the power plants (because it was going to heat homes and businesses) that caused prices to spike.”


Read or listen to the story from Rhode Island Public Radio and the New England News Collaborative here.