Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
The biggest argument from the proponents looking to build CO2-polluting power plants in MA, like ones proposed in Billerica and Brockton, is that we’re constantly in need of more power, and need to ramp up our infrastructure to meet tomorrow’s needs. And anyway, natural-gas-fired plants are sooo much better than coal, so really, we need these in the interim…let us build these plants so we can make money hand over fist, your air quality won’t get that bad, and you need us. Sure we’ll be transitioning to renewables and conservation someday, but in the meantime…
The gas- and diesel-burning plant would produce 350 megawatts of electricity and is slated to open by 2012.
But new sources of power won’t be needed until 2014 at the earliest, according to a recent report from electricity overseer ISO New England.
And it may be even longer before the Brockton plant is needed if other plants come into service first, electricity projections show.
Yet that won’t mean state energy regulators will reject it. Under state law, such forecasts aren’t considered by the Energy Facilities Siting Board, the permit-granting board.
That’s a disappointment to project opponents.
(And remember, the more natural gas plants go up, the quicker our residential gas bills, yours and mine, go skyrocketing too.)
The thing is, by 2014, we should have long been seeing the effects of better policies at the local, state, and federal levels - both in conservation (reducing our need for power overall) and in ramping up the use of renewables, spurred on by such programs as Commonwealth Solar, or local contests (to start with). Thereby, I predict (and am quite sure of myself) that even 2014 will not see an increased need for power. If we’re seeing an increased need for power in five years, we have much bigger problems than having the cost of electricity go up due to scarcity (and honestly, having scarcity might be the only thing at that point that will force us to conserve like we should be).
Like the oil market these days, where a downturn has reduced demand so sharply we’ve seen the price slip to 1/3 its peak cost, below $50 a barrel (a price I never thought I would see in my lifetime again!), power and electricity demand should be going down, and also be supplemented by decentralized power, where every rooftop which is prime real estate for solar will have it, and every windy backyard will have a windmill, and home owners will begin to look beneath their foundations for geothermal.
Decentralized power, as discussed by such people as Jeremy Rifkin in “The Hydrogen Economy,” is a huge threat to the profits of Big Power types that like to pressure us with warnings of electrical scarcity, so they can keep building giant, polluting plants in our backyards. This time, we don’t have to listen to them. We’re on our way to true energy independence - including from our own industrial power giants. The plants in Brockton, or Billerica, or the myriad other sites being considered in MA, are not needed.
Let them go the way of the dinosaurs. Evolve, or get out of the way.
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