New England Power Officials Warn of Pending Winter Crisis as Natual Gas Prices Skyrocket and Electricity is Likely to be Rationed

Posted originally on the conservative tree house on October 18, 2022 | Sundance

New England consists of six states in the US Northeast, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.  The states have been warned by regional ISO electricity providers for several years about their vulnerability if the winter weather is harsh and there is a significant increase in demand for home heating.  Those warnings are now multiplied by the massive price increases for natural gas.

Keep in mind as all these natural gas and LNG issues surface, the U.S. has been exporting natural gas to Europe as part of the Biden effort to subsidize the NATO effort against Russia.  Prices for natural gas have skyrocketed, and now shortages of the fuel source for energy production may create even bigger problems for New England.

[Via Zero Hedge] – […] The region’s power mix changes have left it increasingly reliant on international NatGas spot markets. State governors have asked US Energy Secretary Jennifer Graholm to waive the Jones Act and allow foreign-owned tankers to ship LNG from the US Gulf region. 

All of this has led to New England residents facing some of the highest electricity bills in years. Heating season is already underway. 

New England ISO expects the grid will be stable if there’s a mild-to-moderate winter. However, if there’s an extreme cold spell across the Northeast, then grid chaos could unfold: “The grid overall is in a much tighter position.

“If we get a sustained cold period in New England this winter, we’ll be in a very similar position as California was this summer,” Nathan Hanson, a senior vice president of energy and commercial management of LS Power Development LLC, which has two NatGas power plants in New England, warned. (more)

According to the U.S. Energy Information Association (IEA), U.S. storage of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) is 12% below the five-year average (LINK).  Additionally, the IEA is expecting the U.S. to export 11.7 billion cubic feet of LNG per day during the fourth quarter of 2022 — up 17% from the third quarter. The destination of that export is Europe.

Consider that 43% of U.S. households use natural gas for home heating, and power suppliers use natural gas to create electricity.  With the massive 2022 exports of LNG to Europe (+17% in fourth quarter alone), that means lower domestic supplies and increased prices here in the United States for electricity and home heating.  We are seeing and feeling these massive price increases right now.

Barrons – […]  If you need more evidence of the impact of natural gas exports on prices, just compare supply and demand fundamentals for the year leading up to February 2020 (the last pre-pandemic month) versus the year leading up to this May (the most recent month with full federal data). Annualized production rose over the period, while domestic consumption remained roughly flat. Yet LNG exports almost doubled—a surge that tightened U.S. gas markets and doubled the price that U.S. consumers pay for the fuel. 

The growth of global demand for U.S. LNG can be tied to many market forces, including the shortfalls in Europe due to Russia’s manipulation of European Union gas markets. Sustained high demand in wealthy Asian nations has contributed to export growth as well. And so has the U.S. gas industry’s dogged determination to ship its wares to the highest bidder, foreign or domestic. 

Russia’s role has been particularly critical in the rise of global LNG demand. As Russia choked off gas shipments to Europe, EU buyers have turned to global LNG markets to make up the shortfall. Global LNG prices rose in response, and U.S. LNG companies ramped up output, shipping more cargoes to Europe. But Russia responded by further clamping down on gas supplies to the EU—a vicious circle that has hurt Europe’s economy even more severely than it has harmed America’s.

There’s little sign that U.S. gas prices will ease in the coming years. Freeport’s demand will be back online soon enough, and there are three other massive LNG export projects under construction, with more than a dozen of others waiting for financing.

[…] Curiously, federal regulators have consistently found that the gas export projects are in the public interest—meaning they were in the economic interest of LNG companies and gas drillers. But now, exports are creating sky-high costs for U.S. consumers, and drillers are reluctant to boost gas output lest prices fall back to earth. So, it’s high time to consider whether soaring U.S. LNG exports are actually in America’s interest—or if, instead, runaway LNG exports are fueling energy inflation and undermining the nation’s economic competitiveness. (read more)

Not only are U.S. taxpayers directly paying for the majority of costs in Ukraine, but we are also subsidizing the European Union by exporting LNG and driving up the price for energy here at home.  Here’s the Wall Street Journal talking about the risks to New England:

[Via Wall Street Journal] – New England power producers are preparing for potential strain on the grid this winter as a surge in natural-gas demand abroad threatens to reduce supplies they need to generate electricity.

New England, which relies on natural-gas imports to bridge winter supply gaps, is now competing with European countries for shipments of liquefied natural gas, following Russia’s halt of most pipeline gas to the continent. Severe cold spells in the Northeast could reduce the amount of gas available to generate electricity as more of it is burned to heat homes.

The region’s power-grid operator, ISO New England Inc., has warned that an extremely cold winter could strain the reliability of the grid and potentially result in the need for rolling blackouts to keep electricity supply and demand in balance. The warning comes as executives and analysts predict power producers could have to pay as much as several times more than last year for gas deliveries if severe weather creates urgent need for spot-market purchases.

“The most challenging aspect of this winter is what’s happening around the world and the extreme volatility in the markets,” said Vamsi Chadalavada, the grid operator’s chief operating officer. “If you are in the commercial sector, at what point do you buy fuel?”

Power producers in New England are limited in their ability to store fuel on site and face challenges in contracting for gas supplies, as most pipeline capacity is reserved by gas utilities serving homes and businesses. Most generators tend to procure only a portion of imports with fixed-price agreements and instead rely on the spot market, where gas prices have been volatile, to fill shortfalls. (more)


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