The winter energy crunch, what it costs, and what it will take to fix it
Connecticut’s first-ever Comprehensive Energy Strategy, released 10 years ago, was built around natural gas. Gas was cheap, plentiful and cleaner than oil or coal. It was touted as a bridge from those fuels to renewables for electric power, and better than oil for heating. The CES set out to convert hundreds of thousands of homes to gas heat.
But that strategy came with a big red flag, now all too familiar.
“The interstate pipeline system that supplies Connecticut’s natural gas is already constrained, and there is limited liquified natural gas (LNG) capacity in Connecticut. At current use rates, there will not be enough interstate pipeline, storage, or peaking capacity to serve a large-scale addition of new customers,” the CES said. “Underestimating and purchasing too little capacity could lead to reliability issues (i.e., a shortfall in supply during peak winter season).”
And that is precisely what happened. Ten years later we are facing another winter of price-spiking, hand-wringing and finger-pointing over the current shortfall.
“Because this is an urgent situation now that we haven’t resolved in the past decade, we need all of the parties to come to the table. And we need the federal government, ISO New England and the New England states to work cooperatively to craft a set of solutions that can keep the lights on,” Birchard, formerly of Acadia Center said. “Those solutions have to start with clean energy.”
She singled out demand response, which alters the power need through systems such as control of thermostats, lighting, industrial processes and even the number of elevators that are operating in buildings.
“They don’t require the huge transmission lines. They don’t require the huge infrastructure and time processes that some other types of investments do,” Birchard said.
And there’s storage that allows for collection of excess power. Eversource fired up it first storage project a few months ago – 25 megawatts of battery capacity in Provincetown.
“We had three or four outages this summer,” Nolan said. “11,000 customers never knew we had an outage. It rolls right through it with that battery.”
Read the full article in CT Mirror here.