Monday, November 18, 2013

Reality Check: Gas-Fired Generation Jumps From 20% To 50% Of Electricity Supply In New England & New York

Over the last 12 years, New York and the 6 New England states have closed substantial amounts of oil and coal power plants. While renewable energy has grown in this region, the region has mostly turned to natural gas to replace the closed coal and oil plants.

In 2001, natural gas provided 21% of the electricity supply in New York and New England. But that percentage is rising substantially. As of 2013, natural gas power plants generated about 50% of the total.

The reliance on gas for electric power in the combined New York and New England region is already about twice the portion of America's power provided by natural gas. And the region may be on the way to consuming even more gas, as Vermont will close a nuclear station and Massachusetts its largest coal plant in the next few years.

This region has a lot to learn from California, where non-hydro renewable energy already provides 19% of its power supply.

Here is another thought. The region produces almost none of the huge gas supplies it consumes and buys gas without insisting on the use of the best technology to protect the environment and safety. That is a missed opportunity to reduce local impacts.

Both regulators and consumers should require producers use green completions to limit methane leakage, install best available technology to cut emissions and noise, ban the use of drilling wastewater pits, not discharge drilling wastewater to waters, limit flaring, and take other steps to minimize impacts.

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