July 5, 2006
THE PROBLEM is not that the same company that wants to bring wind power to Nantucket Sound is now proposing to build a diesel-fueled power plant in Chelsea. After all, Toyota makes both hybrid Prius cars as well as SUVs. No, the problem is that the region's appetite for electricity continues to grow and produces summer and winter peaks that are straining capacity. The 240-megawatt generator that Energy Management Inc. in Chelsea is proposing is one answer to the need for more peak capacity. A better one is to cut demand.
New England went on a spree of power-plant construction in the 1990s. Since then, an annual increase in demand of about 500 megawatts has left the system strapped. Any crisis would likely come during the summer air-conditioning season or a cold winter spell.
The region's grid operator says there is a need for new quick-start generators, preferably ones that do not use natural gas... That is the nub of the issue. The company would spend $200 million to $300 million for a plant that would serve basically as an insurance policy, not even being used in some years. And customers of the region's power companies would pay for it...This originally appeared in the Boston Globe on 7/6/06 here.