It’s not breaking news to hear shock and unhappiness over electric bills these days.
But, it’s not the utilities’ fault – maybe that is the news. The fact is we live in a region where our investment in new power generation and the necessary transmission lines to bring that power to our market has not kept up with the times.
Added to that lagging investment is a growing dependence on natural gas, the most volatile of fuel sources. New England and our utilities remain at the end of a very long supply chain; our fuel comes from other parts of the country and carries the cost of moving the energy a long way. Constraints anywhere along the way add to our cost. It need not be that way.
Thankfully, we live in a region – New England – where most legislators are not climate change deniers. Our state leaders have committed to combating climate change by transitioning from dirty to clean electric energy. That requires us to bring very large amounts of wind and solar energy – “fuels from heaven” – into the power grid. These new sources of energy will be clean and will have a significantly shorter supply chain.
- We need a regional approach to develop the clean energy supply from Canada, Northern Maine or offshore, as well as the transmission necessary to bring it to market. Everything we need is in place to cooperate with the other New England states.
- Such a procurement should be open to competition with key criteria for selection based on cost, meeting our clean energy goals, and diversifying our energy portfolio
- And, whether or not the project can be built?
Citizens, through their elected officials, have already decided on the issue of clean versus dirty energy. What was not legislated was how to bring this energy into our homes and businesses. Large-scale wind and hydro resources are available to New Englanders, but they’re a good distance away from our urban areas. In the past, we built a grid for dirty power. Now we must build a grid for clean energy.
We got it right when we decided we needed a Federal Highway System to get goods to market. We got it right again with the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a bill that unleashed our entrepreneurial might while creating virtually a new industry and the jobs that went with it. Make no mistake, 2015 brings a similar opportunity to the power sector.
What a timely moment for New England legislators to make this commitment! We all just saw National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s recent news: 2014 was the warmest year in recorded history.
–Ed Krapels is CEO of Anbaric Transmission a privately-held company specializing in the development of energy transmission and smart-grid projects.
Article originally appears in Masslive.com