Gov. Scott, New England governors call for modernization of regional electricity system

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Media Contact
Rebecca Kelley, Office of the Governor
802-622-4047 | rebecca.kelley@vermont.gov

Montpelier, Vt. – Recognizing the critical role that New England’s regional wholesale electricity market plays in addressing climate change and cost-effectively reducing economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions, Vermont Governor Phil Scott and governors from four Northeast states today issued a statement calling for reforms needed to achieve their states’ respective goals for clean, affordable, and reliable electricity.

“I’ve long said our work to address climate change can and must also work to make energy more affordable for Vermonters, so I’m pleased to be a part of this regional approach to achieving both of these priorities,” said Governor Scott. “With a strategic, multi-state approach we can have a greater impact on both climate change mitigation and energy affordability.”

The statement, signed by Governor Scott, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, Maine Governor Janet Mills, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo calls for reform of the regional electricity market design, transmission planning process, and the governance of the ISO-New England, the independent system operator for the New England power system. A Vision document outlining specific areas for reform will be released later this week through the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE), a non-profit entity that represents the collective perspective of the New England states in regional electricity matters.

“When Connecticut deregulated our electricity sector, we were promised competition, lower risk for ratepayers, more affordable electricity, and a system that respects and accommodates our clean energy mandates,” said Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont. “What we got is a system that has actively hindered our efforts to decarbonize the grid, and imposed burdensome costs on Connecticut ratepayers to fix market design failures. Working together with our neighboring states, I’m committed to achieving a regional electricity grid that provides the affordable, clean, and reliable electricity that Connecticut families and businesses deserve.”

“It is far past time that New England reforms how its electric grid is managed,” said Maine Governor Janet Mills. “The wholesale electricity markets must advance and support clean energy laws and policies, as the states demand decarbonization and markets and consumers support more renewables. ISO-New England must keep pace with state priorities and it must be more transparent and accountable in its decision making, broadening its focus to include consumer and environment concerns as well as reliability and cost.”

“To meet to our Administration’s goal of net zero emissions in Massachusetts by 2050, the Commonwealth needs a regional electricity system that can support the delivery of clean, affordable, and reliable energy to residents and businesses,” said Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. “My administration looks forward to working with our partner states, ISO-New England and stakeholders to build a more transparent, modern and cost-effective power system that will allow New England states to meet our ambitious climate change and clean energy goals while creating a better future for our residents.”

“Here in Rhode Island, we’re committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonizing our future. I’m proud that we’re on track to achieving 100% renewable energy by 2030,” said Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “In order to meet our shared clean energy goals and aggressively combat climate change, it’s clear we need to take a regional approach.”

In the coming months, the states will convene open and accessible forums to ensure that all interested stakeholders have an opportunity to participate in further refinement of the principles of the shared Vision.

Image courtesy of Public domain

7 thoughts on “Gov. Scott, New England governors call for modernization of regional electricity system

  1. It’s all in how much the states want to spend in subsidizing the new unreliable power sources. With money you get honey. We all know who will pay for this boondoggle.

  2. I have a strong feeling that N’Hampsha won’t be “sharing the vision.”

    Take a look at our taxes over here compared to the taxation of all the states that signed onto this.
    People don’t seem to want to accept that if you want to live in an affordable state and not be forced to be a government mule for your entire existence, then guess what that means; passing on a lot of the “visons.”

  3. California has demonstrated, closing highly efficient, up to 60%, low-cost, low-CO2 gas, extremely-low particulate, power plants and increasing weather-dependent, unreliable, variable, expensive, wind and solar, leads to rapid increases of electric rates.

    In case of a Heat wave, or a 5 to 7-day lull of wind and solar (combined output would be only about 15% of what would be normal for that time of year), a large capacity, MW, of gas plants needs to immediately fill in any gaps. That would be the low-cost way of dealing with wind/solar lulls.

    The high-cost way would be battery systems capable of providing, what weather-dependent wind and solar failed to provide.

    The price of custom-engineered battery systems in New England is about $500/kWh, delivered as AC to the high voltage grid.

    New England would need distributed battery systems with a capacity of at least 1.0 billion kWh, to cover such lulls, which would cost about $500 billion. Those batteries would cover lulls, but not seasonal variations.

    Any electricity passing through a battery system has about an 18% loss, on an high voltage AC to high voltage AC basis.

    The other alternative would be to build several very large hydro reservoirs, similar in size of Hydro-Quebec. The reservoirs would be large enough to cover lulls and seasonal variations.

    Wind and solar would pump water from a lower reservoir, into an upper reservoir.

    The water would be released to the lower reservoir located about 50 to 75 ft below the upper one.

    The water would be recirculated; a very small percentage would be lost due to evaporation.

    Hydro turbines would generate power, 24/7/365.

    • You should note that the cost per MW depends in part on the capacity factor. A gas generator whether it operates or not has the cost of construction (taken over a period of time) taxes, and personnel to operate an maintain the facility. The less the plant is operated the higher the cost of the electricity produced.

      • Lester,
        I have about 40 years of energy systems analysis and design behind me.
        I know about energy costs, and manpower, and power plant building, and operation.

        Solar in NE has a capacity of about 0.14 and lasts about 25 years.
        Nuclear has a CF of about 0.90, and lasts at least SIXTY YEARS.

        Vermont Yankee would RELIABLY run, at near FULL PRODUCTION (90+% capacity factor, one of the highest in the US and in the World), for about FIVE HUNDRED DAYS.

        Then it would shut down for about 4 to 5 weeks for refueling, and make all sorts of improvements, with as many as 1000 outside contract workers on the site, plus its own staff, 24/7.

        All would be highly choreographed, planned to the last detail, with simulations, during the 500 days of running time.
        Then VY would restart and RELIABLY produce for ANOTHER 500 days, all at NEAR-ZERO CO2.

        Dem/Prog Shumlin and Co hounded VY out of business, by REFUSING to sign a LONG-TERM contract at 6 c/kWh, because Vermont RE folks were against VY, and wanted to replace VY LOW-COST electricity with heavily subsidized, weather-dependent, variable wind and solar, HIGH-COST electricity, both of which cannot EXIST on the grid, without the OTHER generators varying their outputs to counteract the variations of wind and solar, 24/7/365, including dealing with GRID-DISTURBING, midday, solar DUCK-curves.

        Close down these OTHER generators, as was done in California, and ALL HELL breaks loose, such as frequent rolling brown-outs/rolling black-outs (a la Third World), which likely would occur during stressful conditions, such as heat waves and wind/solar lulls, when their combined output is less than 15% of normal for that time of year, for up to 5 TO 7 DAYS.

        Some folks say we will have energy storage.

        Custom-engineered, large-scale battery systems cost about $500/kWh delivered as AC to the high voltage grid.
        Any electricity passing through such battery systems has a loss of about 15 to 20 percent, on a high voltage AC in, to high voltage AC out basis.

        Electricity fed into the NE grid is about 120 BILLION kWh/y, or an average of 0.33 BILLION kWh per DAY.
        The peak feed-in is about 0.5 BILLION kWh/d, such as on hot days.

        If wind and solar had been 50% on an ANNUAL basis, or 60 BILLION kWh/y, as RE folks think we should have, and a multi-day lull would occur during winter (minimal solar for that time of year), leaving us with less than 15% of whatever would have been produced, during that time of year, would batteries make up the missing wind and solar?

        If so, their capacity would be at least 1 to 2 BILLION kWh to cover shortages and battery losses during the lull.
        Multiply times $500/kWh, and we are talking some real money, i.e., $500 billion to one $trillion.

        What if a SECOND lull were to occur a few days later?

        It would take strong winds, plus some winter solar, to recharge the batteries to be ready for that second lull.
        What else would charge these batteries, if not SURPLUS wind and solar, which would have to happen between the lulls?

        All this is nothing short of a nightmare, and yet a VERY REAL scenario, if RE folks have their way.

        • Interesting stuff about Vermont Yankee.
          I’ve talked to some people here in NH on this side of that area, in Hinsdale,
          some fellas in their 70s maybe that remember that entire story, as they watched it play out from the beginning to the end. One guy worked there and said it was a very safe place and closed up for nothing but political reasons.
          “Vermont being Vermont” were his words. That area now, Brattleboro in particular, has fallen into great decline since the closure of VY.
          Which was entirely predicted to happen because I even remember reading them say this should be avoided, the job loss would be devastating.. which the people hell bent on closing the place totally ignored. Take a look at the crime and drug problems that have since plagued the area from the results of the decline.. I place the blame squarely at their feet, because we know how this happened.

          Those were unique and high paying jobs for our area and when they closed the place, they all packed up and re-located out of the area. And that was a real loss because these kinda people create work for us. They made decent money and hired people to build a deck and re-do the kitchens. They ate out every weekend. They pumped a lot of money into the local economy and that was all destroyed and never replaced. People that live around there know all this to be true, because they saw it happen and live with the high crime around there now.

          They told me something interesting, there was talk in the early days of putting that place on the NH side of the border.. that didn’t happen and they said that right there was a terrible mistake that many of them in the know lived to regret. NH would have never shut it down..and we’ve paid the price over here for it too. People talk about the mistake of shutting VY down to this day here-with a tone of anger.

          I understand that they have made great progress on building safe, smaller nuclear power plants now and they are working well. If this is working well elsewhere, I see no reason that it shouldn’t be on the table around here.
          AND, final point.
          I know someone that works with solar panels and he’s saying that at some point these will all need to be recycled, and that will be an expensive nightmare. He thinks its interesting that no one ever addresses this.
          And what about all these abandoned wind turbines?
          People never talk about the other side of the coin.. the high cost of maintaining this stuff and recycling it.

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