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New England is an Energy Crisis Waiting to Happen

New England is an Energy Crisis Waiting to Happen

A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.” – Carl Reiner

At its core, the human body is a symphony of chemical reactions. The complexities and interdependencies of the molecular machinery that makes our bodies function are almost too staggering to ponder. As any chemist can attest, chemical reactions are usually quite sensitive to temperature, and sensitivity to temperature varies substantially across reaction pathways. As such, temperature control not only dictates reaction rates, but it also influences product and byproduct distributions. At one temperature, two reagents might react cleanly to produce a desired product with high purity. At a different temperature, an undesirable pathway might become more kinetically favored, leading to the accumulation of unwanted impurities.

One of the miracles of the body is its ability to maintain strict internal temperature control, which allows it to regulate the speed and product distributions of the myriad of chemical reactions that are occurring inside you as you read this. The equilibria are delicate, so much so that fluctuations of a mere few degrees can be fatal. This concept of “normal” body temperature is widely understood, but its direct, vital connection to the core chemical reactions occurring inside you is less well known.

Because internal temperature is critical to sustaining life, the body has developed elaborate heat management systems, including discomfort nudges (like shivering and sweating) that are meant to directly generate or shed heat and motivate you to relocate to a more suitable environment. If you stand outside for a few minutes in the winter wearing nothing but shorts and a t-shirt, you become uncomfortable rather quickly. Return inside to a warm fire and a rewarding comfort envelops you. Just don’t get too close to the fire, lest the body be forced to nudge you back outside.

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Outages Could Threaten New England’s Gas Market

Outages Could Threaten New England’s Gas Market

NatGas

After frequent rescheduling and downgrading, including a last-minute delay after market close last Friday, September 21, New England’s main natural gas pipeline, Algonquin Gas Transmission (AGT), may finally run their biggest maintenance event of the year in terms of impact and duration. From September 25 through October 12, Algonquin will conduct an outage between its Stony Point (NY) and Oxford (CT) compressors.

The outage reduces operational capacity at the Stony Point compressor from 1,141 MMcf/d to 744 MMcf/d for the duration of the event. While AGT reported average flows of 1,110 MMcf/d through Stony Point over the last two weeks, implied flows including no-notice nominations show Stony Point averaging 1,274 MMcf/d, meaning this event will cut over ~0.5 Bcf/d of mainline flows relative to the previous two-week average. Assessing previous years’ flows through Stony is somewhat tricky because of recent years’ restrictions for the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) expansions, but Summer ’18 Stony Point flows are well above the five-year average, once adjusted for no-notice. The outage also limits the Oxford compressor to a capacity of 867 MMcf/d.

(Click to enlarge)

Algonquin Gas Transmission mainline as illustrated in Genscape’s Natural Gas RT platform.

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Stony Point Compressor Station to Oxford outage from August 21, 2018 through September 22, 2018.

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Stony Point flows are well above the five-year average this September.

Stony Point is the main constraint point for the AGT mainline, meaning this event brings significant upside risk to AGT Citygate prices and downstream demand. Mainline demand will rely on supply interconnects downstream of Stony Point; including Everett liquefied natural gas (LNG), the Salem Essex interconnect with Maritimes, and the Lincoln and Mendon interconnects with Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP). AGT also notified preemptively declaring an operational flow order (OFO) effective on Monday, heavily penalizing shippers for imbalances. Algonquin also plans to suspend its no-notice service beginning on September 25 and lasting for the duration of the maintenance.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A brief review of the New England electricity sector

A brief review of the New England electricity sector

New England’s transition to renewable electricity is complicated by differences between the generation mixes in and the renewables targets set by its six component states. New England’s approach to fostering renewables by replacing dispatchable fossil fuel generation with wind and solar also does not help. New England does not have enough pipeline capacity to feed its gas plants during high-demand periods when gas generation is most needed, and during the cold weather at the end of 2017 it had to mobilize essentially all of its remaining coal and oil-fired capacity to keep the lights on. If coal and nuclear plant retirements continue blackouts would appear to be inevitable during future cold weather periods. Barring a miraculous advance in energy storage technology New England’s electricity sector also has essentially zero chance of ever going 100% renewable. (Inset: 670 MW Pilgrim nuclear plant, scheduled for shutdown in 2019).

I’m always eager to add more electricity grid data to my collection, and regular correspondent Willem Post recently sent me 2017 daily generation and demand data for the New England Independent Service Operator (ISIO) grid that appear to be reliable and which I have used as the basis for this analysis. So a hat tip to Willem.

New England consists of six states in the northeastern US (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine) with a total population of 8 million and an annual electricity demand of ~115 TWh, about the same as the Netherlands. State locations are shown in the map below:

There are, however, large differences between generation mixes in the different states:

  • Connecticut: 50% nuclear, 50% gas (0% renewables)
  • Maine: 11% wind, 25% gas, 29% hydro, 27% biomass (77% renewables)
  • Massachusetts: 13% oil, 62% gas, 15% nuclear, 9% renewables
  • New Hampshire: 50% nuclear, 33% gas, renewables “most of the rest” (maybe 15%?)
  • Rhode Island: 94% natural gas, 4% renewables
  • Vermont: 16% wind, 5% solar, 56% hydro, 23% biomass (100% renewables)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

East Coast Celebrates Christmas With Warmest Weather On Record

East Coast Celebrates Christmas With Warmest Weather On Record

It was just 10 months ago that Boston smashed its all time snowfall record, and the US was blanketed in freezing weather from west to east as the Polar Vortex unleashed cold air for the second year in a row. It was so cold, the GDP report for the winter period had to be double-seasonally adjusted as the sharp economic slowdown, which was blamed on the “harsh weather”, simply did not make sense otherwise.

Fast forward to today when according to AccuWeather, Christmas felt more like Memorial Day across much of the eastern United States as temperatures rose between 20 and 35 degrees above average and 5-15 degrees above previous record highs.

While unlikely that it was the hottest Christmas ever – temperature recordings only go so far – records were broken all along the Eastern Seaboard, from the Southeast to New England with some areas breaking their previous record high by more than 10 degrees F. Some records were broken from the 1800s.

The highs that occurred on Thursday are more typical of late spring and early summer.

More from AccuWeather:

“One of the most impressive records on Christmas Eve occurred in Burlington, Vermont, when the city set their all-time December high temperature,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Lada said.

Burlington rose to 68 F on Christmas Eve, 17 degrees higher than the previous record of 51 F set in 1957. The all-time warmest day prior to Thursday in Burlington was on Dec. 7, 1998 and Dec. 5, 1941 when it reached 67 F.

As a result of the warm weather, the entire Northeast was left without a white Christmas. The only location which saw at least an inch of snow accumulation on the ground on Christmas was across northern Maine. “Records also fell all along the Interstate 95 corridor from Boston through Washington, D.C.,” Lada said.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Winter Storm Neptune: ‘Life-Threatening’ Storm, Cold to Hit New England

Winter Storm Neptune: ‘Life-Threatening’ Storm, Cold to Hit New England

Here’s a few updates on Winter Storm Neptune, which will hit the northeast U.S. on Friday, but the impact will be felt on Saturday and Sunday.

New England, including hard-hit Boston, will get slammed by the blizzard, says Accuweather.com.

“A storm passing through the Northeast riding a tidal wave of frigid air will evolve into a blizzard over New England before departing during the Valentine’s Day weekend,” the site says. “The worst of the storm will target the central and northern New England coast Saturday night into Sunday with wind-driven snow.”

 

Meanwhile, the “major cities in the path of the burst of snow that can cross hundreds of miles include Cleveland, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia,” says Accuweather.

The Weather Channel urged northeast residents to “prepare now” for the storm, which it dubbed Winter Storm Neptune. “Areas far removed from the center of the storm in the mid-Atlantic can experience life-threatening cold, the risk of power outages from high winds, and the possibility of road closures and flight cancellations,” it said.

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Fast-Warming Gulf of MaineOffers Hint of Future for Oceans by Rebecca Kessler: Yale Environment 360

Fast-Warming Gulf of MaineOffers Hint of Future for Oceans by Rebecca Kessler: Yale Environment 360.

The waters off the coast of New England are warming more rapidly than almost any other ocean region on earth. Scientists are now studying the resulting ecosystem changes, and their findings could provide a glimpse of the future for many of the world’s coastal communities.

by rebecca kessler

After hauling in the cages at his island oyster farm near Biddeford, Maine, Mark Green’s boat is loaded with crusty marine life. Baskets of oysters are there, but so are green crabs — invasive and inedible. “My boat will be full,” Green says. “The bottom will just be this undulating mass of green crabs by

green crab

Sandy Richard/Flickr
Green crabs have been proliferating in the waters of the Gulf of Maine recently.

the end of the day. I mean thousands.”

A native of Europe, green crabs have been present on the U.S. East Coast for more than a century, but until a couple of years ago they didn’t cause much trouble in Maine. Now, thanks to rapidly warming waters, their population has exploded. While they don’t bother the tough-shelled oysters, the crabs are laying waste to the region’s softshell clams — another important commercial stock — and devastating its seagrass meadows, which Green, an environmental scientist at St. Joseph’s College in nearby Standish, calls “the most crucial habitat that exists in an estuary.”

“It’s crazy,” Green says. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

New England Can Feed Itself. Here’s How. | New England New Economy TransitionNew England New Economy Transition

New England Can Feed Itself. Here’s How. | New England New Economy TransitionNew England New Economy Transition.

Speakers Brian Donahue, Eva Aguedelo, Karen Spiller, and Brett Tolly

By Sarah Byrnes & Orion Kriegman

On Wednesday October 8, one hundred people gathered at a church in Jamaica Plain, MA, to consider: Can New England Feed Itself?

The answer is yes, New England can feed itself – halfway. Food Solutions New England’s Food Vision, a rigorous analysis of New England’s history and natural resources, claims that our region could produce at least half of our own food if we farm three times as much land (up from 5% to 15% of our landmass) and shift from a “Business as Usual” diet to the “Omnivore’s Delight.” In a different scenario, called “Regional Reliance,” the Vision finds we could produce 70% of our food within our six states. Either of these scenarios represents a vast improvement over the current system, where only 10% of food is produced regionally.*

But before we get any further, it’s important to remind ourselves why we want regional food. “If we want a local or regional food system,” says Brian Donahue, the evening’s main speaker, “it’s important to ask: Why? What values are we truly serving?”

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