Blackouts Are Coming to New England

Blackouts Are Coming to New England

According to a study done by the New England Independent System Operator (ISO-NE), there is a virtual certainty New England will experience blackouts over the next few years.

The ISO-NE, Fuel Security Analysis ran 23 scenarios for the winter 2024/2025 and in all but one, there was potential for disaster.

In 19 cases load shedding, i.e., rolling blackouts, were required.

These blackouts would be in the winter. Here is a sampling of their effect.

  • Home heating and office heating systems wouldn’t work. People would have to live without heat.
  • Elevators in high-rise and other buildings wouldn’t operate, resulting in people being trapped.
  • There would be no lighting in homes, offices or streets.
  • Battery powered vehicles (BEVs) couldn’t have batteries recharged.
  • Communication systems would be disrupted. People would be without radio or TV.
  • Refrigeration for food storage in homes and stores wouldn’t work.

Four conditions or failures were identified that would result in the most serious consequences.

  • Loss of a natural gas pipeline compressor station
  • Shutdown of Millstone nuclear power plant
  • Loss of the Canaport LNG import and regasification facility in New Brunswick
  • Disruption of Massachusetts LNG import facility

The ISO-NE report states:

“An extended outage at any of these facilities would result in frequent energy shortages that would require frequent and long periods of rolling blackouts.”

But even less severe outages and conditions would also result in blackouts throughout New England. The ISO-NE report states:

“For New England, the foremost risk to current and future power system reliability revolves around fuel security—the ability of power plants to get the fuel they need to run when they need it.”

In other words, New England needs a secure supply of oil to run its power plants in the winter.

In spite of this obvious need for oil-fired power plants to operate, the state of Massachusetts is implementing more regulations limiting the number of days that oil-fired power plants can operate. Currently, oil-fired power plants can operate for only 30 days during a year, and Massachusetts plans to cut them further.

Solar and wind cannot provide energy security for New England. See Oil Saves New England

The degradation of solar power due to winter weather is reflected in this chart from ISO-NE:

Chart from ISO-New England Cold Weather Operations Presentation,
January 2018 – Blue chart line is estimated output that’s substantially below potential output.

The ISO-NE projections included scenarios where behind the meter solar increases by 4400 MW. One scenario had renewables increase even further, but it required increasing imports from 2,500 MW to 3,500 MW, a very unlikely possibility due to transmission limitations and the need for electricity by surrounding jurisdictions during cold, winter weather.

Given the unreliability of PV solar, especially in winter weather, PV solar would seem to be a bad investment motivated by an irrational fear of CO2 induced global warming. See New England Solar Madness. 

Conclusion

ISO-NE has demonstrated there will be blackouts in New England in the coming years, and that, without serious changes in the use of resources, blackouts will not only continue but get worse.

One initial step that could help alleviate the situation is to stop retiring coal-fired power plants.

Building new natural gas pipelines is another step that could be taken to ensure the availability of natural gas for power generation.

Expensive and unreliable wind and solar cannot resolve this problem.

Storage is not an answer. The ISO-NE report says:

“Cost-effective, advanced energy storage is not yet available at a scale that can ensure reliability on a 35,000-MW power system.”

The writing is on the wall, and unless people stand up and protest, there will be blackouts in New England.

Note: ISO-NE report available at http://bit.ly/2EDtQDx

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2 Replies to “Blackouts Are Coming to New England”

  1. One wonders what it takes before these zealots wake up to the facts that their policies are destructive and how their policies will impact the reliability and integrity of the system.
    I lived in the UK during the miners coal strike in the early 70’s and persevered scheduled electricity outages every day. Since we had an electric stove had to arrange your meals around blackouts.

    • Thanks for ypur comments.
      Amazingly I have had some comments critical of me for posting what the ISO-NE published in its report.

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