ISO-NE, our regional power grid managers, issued a new report warning of dire consequences unless we build out for MOAR GAS. Rolling blackouts! “Appeals to the public to reduce energy usage” … horrors. I suspect we’ll get full scrutiny of that report’s assumptions and predictions in short order: When you’re modeling the future, a little tweak can make an enormous difference.
From the Acadia Center’s Mark Le Bel:
I’d bet if heating demand for gas grows by 1% per year instead of 2% (as assumed in study), the problem would pretty much go away. I also forgot addressing methane leaks and grid modernization investments as solutions!
— Mark LeBel (@morelebel) January 19, 2018
In the environmental movement, we’re now used to negotiating, to looking for win-win situations: Green jobs! Efficiency saves money! As the saying goes, “If it’s good for everybody, it’s good for everybody.”
But I don’t want to hide my bottom line here:
Promoting use of more natural gas is an absolute non-starter, from a climate change perspective.
I don’t know how to tell people, any more than I do, that this is the most important thing; that the entire world is at stake; that everything we care about depends on the decisions we make at large, today. And that we are fast running out of time; that we don’t have time for a 40-year go-along-to-get-along with a powerfully destructive industry. The answer is no, hell no, never, over my dead body, no. And my political loyalties will reflect that; if you imagine that my opposition to Governor Baker is based on mere rooting for partisan laundry, well, here it is.
So, if this were a really difficult decision, we’d have to make major sacrifices in the short term — maybe we do anyway, but not for the issue at hand. ISO-NE’s Gordon van Welie, Charlie Baker, and the usual gang of corporate types live in a culture of skepticism about the power and scope of renewables and greater energy efficiency. In fact, the growth of renewables is chronically underestimated — more here. Why not build even more offshore wind than the 1600MW already agreed to? Why not plug leaks and insulate houses at an unprecedented pace? Why not un-cap solar? Why not green the grid and promote efficient electric heat? Have we truly maxed out on these things?
So we’ve got palatable, profitable, and popular options on one hand, and a totally unacceptable option on the other. Eversource can complain about the “actions of a few” (that’s me!) preventing more fossil infrastructure; but actually it’s the suits that are standing out in the cold.