Category — New England energy policy
“Onshore wind in New England currently demands between 9-11 cents per KWh, more than twice the wholesale price of natural gas. Offshore wind is even more expensive starting at over 18 cents a KWh. More wind energy in the fuel mix will cause upward pressure on energy prices for the life of the power purchase agreements.”
- Lisa Linowes (below)
Last week, the New England Energy Alliance of Boston released its annual survey of New England energy consumers. Paul Afonso, executive director of the Alliance and a former Massachusetts utility regulator, summed the results:
Overall, the main concern of New Englanders continues to be the economy and pocketbook issues. If voters think any policy – private or public – will bring down the cost of energy, they will support it.
But if this is the case, the survey’s findings reflect a sentiment that’s entirely contrary to New England’s current energy policies. In particular, the region’s renewable energy mandate should receive public scrutiny with public-policy reform in mind.
The six New England states have aggressively pushed for renewable energy development, with particular emphasis on wind power. All but Vermont have adopted a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) mandating that a percentage of the electricity sold retail into the region come from renewables.
RPS obligations for 2010 were about 14% of demand — an amount satisfied through a combination of existing, qualified resources in New England, and renewable energy imported from neighboring New York and Canada (mostly hydro). Reaching 20% by 2020, however, will require new wind capacity–very expensive and unreliable capacity. Critical adjustments in RPS policies are thus necessary to avoid ballooning energy costs that would severely compromise New England’s economy.
The cautionary tale for New England is provided by California as documented in Robert Peltier’s post yesterday, Energy Policy in California: Turning Gold into Lead.
Wind in New England: Today vs. 2020
New England currently claims 48 wind energy projects totaling 318 megawatts. Maine has the most wind installed at 266 megawatts; Connecticut the least at 0.1 megawatts.
Assuming a generous 30% annual capacity factor, wind in New England produced around 836,000 megawatts hours (MWh) in 2010, substantially below other fuel options, including natural gas that produced over 50 million MWh (that is, 60x that of wind).
New England would need to add 23 million megawatt hours (MWh) of new renewable energy in order to satisfy state mandates by 2020. Since wind energy is the primary resource proposed to be built in the region, and the resource most favored by New England’s ‘ruling class’, future RPS obligations will likely be met by in-region wind power.
But what will this look like? [Read more →]
June 24, 2011 12 Comments