NYC in Two Years: Hide Your Wallets and Don’t Breathe
The Indian Point nuclear power plant won’t begin shutting down for another two years, yet, thanks to the cold snap gripping New York and the rest of the northeast, power prices and fossil-fuel usage–coal and oil—are already surging.
In New York City, power prices during the cold spell repeatedly surged by nearly 50 percent to nearly $250.00 a megawatt-hour, according to Genscape data compiled by Bloomberg. The surge results from the skyrocketing demand for natural gas that both generates electricity and heats our homes. The constrained pipelines simply can’t handle it all.
While New York will not let natural gas be produced within the state using hydraulic fracturing, it does use shale gas produced from the Marcellus formation in Pennsylvania, whose consumers benefit from its production. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, natural gas prices in Pennsylvania are much lower than they are for New Yorkers.
Plants in New England are using the most fuel oil in three years to produce electricity, with oil becoming the primary fuel used to generate electricity after temperatures plunged well below freezing. Plants burning fuel oil briefly accounted for over 30 percent of the region’s power supply, according to the Independent System Operator of New England, the local grid operator. Oil typically makes up under 1% of the fuel mix on most days.
In the PJM energy market, which stretches from New Jersey west to Illinois and south to Washington, D.C., coal has once again surged past natural gas to become the biggest fuel for power generation. Oil demand has also shot up.
According to Nuclear Energy Institute spokesman Matt Wald, “The (energy) grid’s experience is that pipelines max out, coal piles can freeze, other forms of generation are much more weather-vulnerable than nuclear. Nuclear does not shut down because of cold. In cold weather you really want to have a good amount of nuclear on the grid.”
Imagine two years from now. Thirty percent of NYC’s electricity generation, 10% statewide, emission-free, and extremely reliable, is removed from service. No new gas pipelines or Marcellus shale fracking in New York state. Power plants struggling to get state permits.
Imagine prices then. And don’t breathe the air.