The New England Grid is changing rapidly. Large workhorse generation stations are retiring in big numbers. That can be good, as lots of those are dirty old coal and oil plants in Southern New England.
But it's also bad, because when we have to build new generation facilities, our light bills will increase.
While Maine has the third cleanest electricity generation fleet in the nation, and while New England as a region is also very clean, in the last few years we have made a push for lots more wind generation.
This is a problem. Why?
Well for starters it ruins some of Maine's most special places. And wind turbines are hundreds of miles from electricity customers, so all those new transmission lines will really whack our light bills. And of course, closing base-load nuke and coal plants reduces our ability to reliably keep the lights on. A thousand new wind turbines in Maine cannot perform the crucial work performed by one nuke plant like the soon-closing 680 megawatt Pilgrim Nuclear Plant in Massachusetts. Even after we spend billions on new wind turbines, we will still need to invest in new base-load and peak-load generating plants to run the grid. This would be very costly.
Continuing to dump billions of dollars into remote wind and its corresponding transmission lines is like a homeowner blowing her paycheck on patio furniture while there is a growing hole in her roof. If we want more renewables, lets stick to renewable generation that is dispatchable and scalable… you know... the useful stuff: hydro, biomass, rooftop solar, tidal, etc.
This infographic from the New England Grid operator clearly illustrates the pickle we are in if we keep wasting our money on "patio furniture"