Offshore, Project Development, Wind Power

Wind Power to Alleviate Winter Gas Shortage

A recent article in ISO NEWS, the newsletter of the Independent System Operator of New England (ISO NE), which administers New England’s electric transmission system, describes an upcoming shortage of natural gas, “New England’s gas pipeline infrastructure will, at least for the near-term, be unable to serve the coincident winter-time demands of the traditional gas utilities and the electric sector.”

Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts – October 6, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] According to Cape Wind, the clean, renewable energy produced by their proposed offshore wind farm on Horseshoe Shoal will help reduce the need for natural gas in electricity generation. On the coldest days when demand is highest, Cape Wind’s wind energy will be producing some of its highest levels of clean energy, helping to relieve New England’s over-reliance on natural gas and reduce the cost of energy. “Some of our highest wind energy production will occur on cold winter days when demand for natural gas is at its highest and the price of electricity generated from natural gas is the most expensive. Cape Wind’s electricity will help reduce this region’s reliance on natural gas and help reduce energy price spikes,” said Cape Wind President Jim Gordon. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has twice recently testified before Congress on the risks to the US economy posed from rising energy prices caused by a natural gas supply shortage across the nation. The ISO NE article notes that New England is second only to Texas in its reliance on natural gas as its source of electricity, but that “New England is at the proverbial ‘end-of-the-pipe,’ while Texas sits atop one of the largest oil and gas reserves in North America”. The Union of Concerned Scientists and the American Wind Energy Association have both issued recent statements pointing out the significant role that wind energy can play in reducing reliance on more expensive natural gas for energy generation and in reducing energy costs. American Wind Energy Association Executive Director Randall Swisher said in June that, “We estimate that the wind farms already in place, and those that will be installed by the end of this year, will be saving about a half billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in 2004ýThat means the natural gas shortage would be 10 – 15 percent worse if it were not for the relatively small amount of wind generation we have today.” While natural gas prices have been volatile and rising, the cost of wind power has been declining steadily in past years. Chairman Greenspan and many energy analysts have predicted that natural gas prices are expected to remain high for the next several years.