Preparing for New England’s capacity transition.
Paul J. Hibbard is a vice president in Analysis Group’s Boston office. He was chairman of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities from 2007 to 2010. The author is currently providing services under contract with ISO-NE, including some matters related to topics discussed in this article. The work described herein, however, stems from data and analysis obtained, developed, and executed by Analysis Group independent of ISO-NE, and doesn’t use or rely on any non-public information from ISO-NE.
There is no shortage of opinion—including in these pages—about how much of our nation’s aging coal, oil, and natural gas electric fleet will be retired in the coming years. The North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) estimates that up to 76 GW of primarily coal- and oil-fired capacity will be retired or derated by 2018, with virtually no region of the country unaffected.1 For New England, NERC’s analysis suggests that up to 4 GW of capacity could face retirement or derating, considering deteriorating market economics and the capital investments required to comply with the combined requirements of forthcoming EPA rules on air emissions, cooling water, and coal ash disposal.2
The proliferation of studies and flurry of activity around retirement aren’t merely exercises in political maneuvering or consulting gone wild; announcements about retiring plants have been emerging steadily over the past year (at least), including in New England.