June 22, 2016 Read More →

Coal-Plant Retirements in New England Have ‘Opened the Door’ for Alternatives

Peter Marrin for SNL:

The retirement of coal and nuclear generation in New England has opened the door for more natural gas-fired and renewable generation.

Regional capacity auctions have successfully replaced EquiPower Resources Corp.’s Brayton Point 1-3 coal-fired units and Brayton Point 4 oil-fired unit, as well as Entergy Corp.’s Pilgrim nuclear station, both in eastern Massachusetts. Brayton Point, which is ultimately owned by Dynegy Inc., is slated to shut in June 2017, and Pilgrim is expected to shutter operations in June 2019.

More than 1,500 MW of capacity will be lost due to the Brayton Point retirement and nearly 700 MW of capacity will be lost by the impending shutdown of the Pilgrim plant. Together these two plants represent 8% of ISO New England Inc.’s total reserves.

However, a total of approximately 3,500 MW of new gas-fired generation will replace, and in fact outpace, the retirement losses. New capacity will include 675 MW in service by the 2017 reliability year, 985 MW in service for the 2018 reliability year and 1,800 MW in service for reliability year 2019. The reliability year begins June 1 and runs through the end of May.

Relatively ambitious RPS standards support continued renewables development, which is expected to contribute 1,300 GWh by 2018, including 235 GWh in the region covering southeast Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

While natural gas generation will fill in for the loss of the Pilgrim nuclear plant and could hold almost 60% of New England’s power-generating market share by 2020, Piper sees renewables capturing all incremental generation growth thereafter. By 2025, gas-fired generation is expected to step back to 56% of New England’s total while combined wind and solar resources see their market share rise from 4% in 2017 to 7% in 2020 and 10% by 2025.

Full article ($): New England power market facing challenges as gas, renewables vie for market share