SHOCK: 75% of New England Gas-Fired Generation Offline (Capacity Supply Obligation Meaningless); PSNH Able to Tout Diversity, "Value" of Utility-Owned Generation
January 24, 2014 Email This Story Copyright 2010-13 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
According to ISO-New England, about 75 percent of the region's natural gas electrical generation capability was not running Thursday, presumably due to limited gas supply and/or high prices, Public Service Company of New Hampshire said in a news release yesterday.
Although it was unclear what amount of this offline capacity was receiving capacity payments through New England's centralized capacity market, the sheer volume of gas-fired capacity which was offline inevitably suggests that some capacity with a capacity supply obligation was offline. This further demonstrates that mandating that load pay capacity suppliers on a forward basis for capacity, under the pretense of reliability, offers load no assurance that such capacity will actually be available to generate power when needed.
PSNH said that as a result of the offline capacity, its entire electricity generation fleet was in operation this week, "to help meet a critical regional energy demand resulting from the prolonged cold snap."
"Extremely low temperatures combined with insufficient pipeline capacity to satisfy New England's increased dependence on natural gas, have prompted regional energy administrator ISO-New England to take what may be an historic measure--asking PSNH to fire up all of its larger power-generating facilities at Merrimack Station in Bow, Schiller Station in Portsmouth, and Newington Station, as well as infrequently-used combustion turbine facilities at Merrimack Station, Lost Nation (Groveton), and White Lake (Tamworth), for an extended period of time. Several of the combustion turbines are powered by aviation 'jet' fuel," PSNH said.
"When market prices for natural gas spike during times of high demand, [PSNH Vice President - Generation, William] Smagula says PSNH's facilities provide ISO-New England with a lower-cost alternative, which benefits PSNH customers," PSNH said.
"There is no question that the New England system is severely stressed at the moment," Smagula said, "but our entire fleet continues to perform well and provide great value to New Hampshire customers, by keeping the lights on and costs stable."
"PSNH is the only New England utility that still owns and operates its power generation facilities, a diverse fleet that is not dependent on natural gas. The state-regulated power plants, including biomass, coal, oil and nine hydroelectric facilities, are jointly capable of generating 1,150 megawatts of electricity to the regional grid," PSNH said.