Maine, Massachusetts Could See Widespread Winter Power Outages
Unlike some parts of the country, New England rarely needs to worry about power outages. Sure, we have the occasional outage during bad weather, but it is nothing like some of the heavily populated states. California, for example, is always dealing with outages and brown-outs during peak times.
That being said, it looks like we could end up dealing with some power issues this winter.
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has issued a report saying that during bad weather, much of New England is at an elevated risk for power outages.
Snow, freezing rain, and high winds are not the real concern. The NERC is concerned about cold temperatures. When the temperatures nose-dive, people crank up the heat. For many people, their primary heat source is electric. Additionally, those who get their heat from oil or wood often have an auxiliary electric heating system. A heat pump or space heater, for example.
All of this puts a strain on the electric grid. It is kind of like a reverse of what California experiences. During the hottest months of the year, a strain is put on the California grid because people are cranking up their A/Cs.
As long as the temperatures stay fairly mild, we should be okay.
The real concern for New England centers around the fact that much of the electricity generated in Maine comes from natural gas. The report indicates that about 54% of the power used by Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts is generated by the burning of natural gas.
The report says, in part:
The capacity of natural gas transportation infrastructure could be constrained when cold temperatures cause peak demand for both electricity generation and consumer space-heating needs. Potential constraints on the fuel delivery systems and the limited inventory of liquid fuels may exacerbate the risks for fuel-based generator outages and output reductions that result in energy emergencies during extreme weather.
The report goes on to say that ISO – New England is trying to minimize risks by incentivizing power generation companies. The organization will give compensation to companies that have backup supplies of fuel.
Is this going to be limited to just the winter of ‘23/’24? Sadly, no. There are concerns that we could be dealing with the same concerns next winter, too.
Even though most of our winter tourist industries rely on cold weather and snow, let's hope that the temperatures don't drop too low.
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