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Latest regional energy market auction shows Invenergy plant not needed says CLF



The results of ISO New England‘s Forward Capacity Auction (FCA) 12, which determines energy suppliers and prices for southern New England three years from now, are in. This is the third consecutive auction in which there was no price separation in the zone that includes Rhode Island, which should finally put to rest the idea that Rhode Island is in an import-constrained zone.

This is important, because for many years we have been told by fracked gas proponents that Rhode Island constrained energy importation is constrained by things like “chokepoints” and a lack of access to the larger electrical grid. The results of FCA 12 should bury this idea.

For opponents of Invenergy‘s proposed $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant aimed at the pristine forests of northwest Rhode Island, the auction is good news. For the third year in a row the results of the auction show that the plant is not needed to meet the energy needs of the region or Rhode Island.

Jerry Elmer, senior attorney at Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) writing on the CLF blog:

New England-wide: In this auction, the ISO needed to procure 33,725 MW of capacity for all of New England. In fact, the ISO procured 34,827 MW of capacity – or 1,102 MW more than it needed. That is, even if you back out all of the 485 megawatts that Invenergy has offered into the New England-wide system, the ISO would still have a surplus of 617 MW.

There is one more important point about those 33,725 MW of capacity that the ISO needed to procure in this auction. That figure is actually lower than the amount the ISO needed to procure last year (34,075 MW), which in turn was lower than the amount that the ISO needed the previous year (34,151 MW). The reason that the ISO needs less capacity this year is really important: the ISO is now procuring less capacity because the unprecedented growth of rooftop solar and energy efficiency is reducing overall demand for electricity.

The short of it is that one big reason we don’t need Invenergy is because of the growth of renewable energy.

The Zone That Includes Rhode Island: The ISO also has so-called “Local Sourcing Requirements” (LSR). The LSR is the amount of capacity that the ISO must procure in a local area, usually as a result of transmission constraints. In this auction, the LSR for the zone that includes Rhode Island was 10,018 MW. In fact, the ISO procured 11,130 MW in this zone – or fully 1,112 MW more than it needed. Here again, even if you back out all of the 485 MW that Invenergy has offered, the ISO would have a surplus of 627 MW in the zone that includes Rhode Island.

“All of this is further confirmation of the degree that Invenergy is not needed,” writes Elmer.

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.

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