Blackouts Threaten New England, Again

Blackouts Threaten New England, Again

It was only a few years ago, the winter of 2018, that New England was spared from dangerous blackouts by storing oil at key natural gas power plants. Natural gas power plants can burn oil as well as natural gas. 

In January 2018, oil saved the day.

The current chairman of FERC, Richard Glick, was opposed to using oil to support the safe operation of the New England grid. Chairman Glick, a Democrat, has been a staunch advocate for measures to eliminate fossil fuels.

He has been nominated by President Biden to serve another five year term, but must be confirmed by the Senate. Given his staunch advocacy for eliminating fossil fuels, his removal from FERC could slow down the government’s war on fossil fuels. 

Blocking his confirmation would result in a 2 to 2 tie between Democrats and Republicans on FERC which would stymie anti-fossil fuel measures.

The electric grid’s independent system operator, ISO-NE, has warned that a cold winter this year could result in blackouts. 

The New England grid has been weakened by the closure of nuclear power plants and the addition of unreliable wind and PV solar to the grid.

The accompanying graph, published by ISO-NE, shows how little electricity was generated by PV solar during 12 days in January 2018. The lack of wind generated electricity was also a problem during some of these 12 days.

From ISO-NE Cold Weather Operation Presentation January 2018 with arrow added.
Light green shows predicted output. Dark green shows actual output.

The New England grid is in danger of blackouts without an adequate supply of natural gas.

Homeowners who use natural gas for heating their homes are given preference over power generation for whatever natural gas is available. 

New England is only a few hundred miles from the largest natural gas reserves in the world, but it’s been impossible to build pipelines to bring cheap natural gas to New England.

Anti-fossil fuel advocates have blocked pipelines that could bring natural gas from Pennsylvania to New England. 

Unfortunately, the people of New England have elected politicians to Congress, such as Senators, Markey, (Mass.), Blumenthal, (Conn), and Whitehouse, (RI), who support the war on fossil fuels, so the people of New England can’t turn to their elected representatives for help in getting pipelines built.

In the past, New England has imported LNG from foreign countries to fill the need for natural gas in winter. This year, as the result of unusual European demand, the price for LNG will be very high … assuming it’s available.

The price for electricity will also be very high, as will the cost of heating homes with oil or natural gas. Around 40% of New Englanders use natural gas for heating, while around 35% use oil, and 14% use electricity.

At best, this will be a very costly winter for homeowners in New England.

At worst, there will be dangerous blackouts.

All of which could be avoided with more natural gas pipelines.

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6 Replies to “Blackouts Threaten New England, Again”

  1. Based on some outside activity with our local school system, I did some research on the “Best Public School Systems in the U.S.”. Several surveys are available, but Massachussetts always ranks near the top in comparisons with other states. Then of course, for Post Secondary education we have MIT, Northeastern and Harvard in the area. One has to wonder what is being taught in schools, K-12 or Universities when Energy is so importent for everything we do, including producing food and protection from freezing in the winter, yet young and old protest against Fossil Fuels. I see the anti-Conventional Energy movement as a failure of all levels of Public Education in America. The MSM, Entertainment, Democrat Politicians, WEF, Woke Businesses have all done an effective job of “Indoctrinating the Public to Demonize Carbon”. This winter will be a tough lesson on the “Importance of Energy” and the fuels that are dependable, affordable, dispatchable and Domestically available to provide the energy we need. Perhaps “Energy 101” should be taught in Middle School?

    • Excellent commens.
      Energy 101 would be a good step forward. Of course, if science was properly taught in High School it would be part of that curriculum.

  2. Another great post. Unfortunately, and for the uneducated about science, it will take personal hardship at the national level before “the people” will hopefully finally demand accountability — and maybe even a love for more CO2.

  3. Seems like energy supply is being taken to the brink everywhere. Apparently heating oil supplies are low too for new England

    • Yes. New England is in short supply heating oil which puts 35% of New Englanders in danger of freezing temperatures, in addition to what happens with natural gas.