New England’s power grid transition and what it means to maaps members

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By Shaun Pandit, CEO, Early Bird Power, maaps’ preferred energy advisor

There is a huge shift happening to the power grid in New England – and what you don’t know could impact your school– and your utility bill. All members of maaps should take notice.

The power grid in New England is rapidly shifting from coal and nuclear energy to natural gas and renewable energy. Between 2012 and 2020, about 15% of the region’s generating capacity – more than 4,200 megawatts (MW) – is being replaced. Most of the new generating capacity is powered by new natural gas-fired plants.

If we were adding gas plants to the mix without shuttering any plants, this story might be a little different. But the closures of two plants – Brayton Point Station in May 2017 and Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in May 2019 – removed 2,200 MW of non-gas-fired capacity. And they are not the only older plants at risk of closing.

Consequences and Realities:

Capacity Costs on the Rise. Over the next three years, the cost to provide reliable electricity on the grid during peak usage periods will rise due to reduced capacity from plant closures. Understanding how these capacity costs will impact your school’s electricity rates can help you anticipate and mitigate the impact as much as possible.

Natural Gas Basis Costs Can Spike. Gas-fired electrical generation must compete for supply with domestic and commercial heating and cooking, and industrial usage. This is especially true during the winter months when natural gas usage increases due to heating demand. As occurred in the winter of 2014, the cost of the transportation, or basis, can spike and dramatically impact the market.

What can your school do?

Access the competitive market. Given this potential volatility, minimizing your school’s exposure to rate spikes and achieving budget certainty may be more important than ever. Consider contacting EarlyBird Power, maaps’ preferred energy provider, who can lead a transparent, competitive bidding process and secure the lowest available fixed rates for your organization.

Invest in Energy Efficiency. If you’re using less energy, you’re spending less. Look at all options and identify available incentives to minimize the up-front costs and payback periods.

Investigate renewables – but understand the financials. Installing your own renewable or net metering installations can mitigate fluctuations in the energy markets. Be sure to explore the differences in owning versus leasing equipment when installing onsite.

Working with an experienced energy advisor like EarlyBird Power can help maaps schools better understand the market, leverage available incentives, and develop the best strategy for your organization to keep costs down.

For more information about the maaps Cost Savings Program with EarlyBird Power, contact Sean Kenney at seantkenney@earlybirdpower.com or 617-548-3205. You can also contact maaps COO Mark de Chabert at mdechabert@maaps.org or 781-245-1220.

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