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New England Grid Operator Says New Policies Will Improve Winter Fuel Security

Thomas Gehrke
Flickr Creative Commons

New England's electric grid operator says the region should have enough fuel to get through the winter, even if the weather gets colder than expected.

But utilities and power users say they’re still worried about winter reliability long-term.

The grid operator, ISO-New England, says they learned some things from last winter's cold snap.

Demand was high and natural gas imports and pipelines were strained, so power plants turned to their coal and oil reserves.

They emitted enough carbon to negate 75 percent of the environmental benefits of solar power in Massachusetts.

Now, ISO says they’ll do better forecasting demand and allocating limited fuel resources. And they’ll pay power plants extra to stay online during times of high demand.

But there are concerns for the future. ISO and utilities say the region is too reliant on natural gas, without enough pipelines to deliver more of it as older power plants retire.

Market changes to add reliability in other ways can increase costs for consumers.

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.

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