Connecticut Officials Should Advance Natural Gas-Fueled Power Plant
Posted May 14, 2019
Next month the Connecticut Siting Council is scheduled to hold an important vote on a proposed natural gas-fueled power plant in Killingly, the Killingly Energy Center. The plant should get the council’s go-ahead, as it would help meet growing consumer demand while supporting badly needed stability in the regional power grid.
The plant would produce enough electricity for 500,000 homes. In addition to generating electricity, the facility would generate $110 million in local tax revenue over the next two decades while helping the state advance its climate goals (more on that below).
Most importantly, consumers would get needed help. For years Connecticut and New England have paid the nation's highest prices for electricity. Insufficient natural gas infrastructure is a big reason. Natural gas supply is one issue. The other is ensuring that there’s reliable power generation capacity, which is where the Killingly Energy Center would come in.
In 2018, natural gas-fueled generation accounted for 50.5 percent of Connecticut’s electricity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), which compiles energy-related data for the federal government. That’s up from just 13.4 percent in 2001 – nearly a 400 percent increase.
Compared to 1990, nearly 33 percent more homes now choose to use natural gas, according to the Northeast Gas Association, with more than a third of homeowners heating with natural gas.
In turn, this rise in natural gas use has played a significant role in reducing the state’s emissions associated with power generation since 1990: 37 percent less carbon dioxide, 74 percent fewer smog-causing nitrogen oxides and 97 percent less sulfur dioxide, according to EIA.
Certainly, natural gas-fueled generation is integral to the state’s climate goals as a consistent partner for part-time energy sources including wind and solar. Natural gas-fueled generation can cycle up quickly as output falls at an East Lyme Solar Park or a Somers Solar Center, when the sun doesn’t shine, or when the wind stops blowing through a future wind farm off New London. Connecticut Petroleum Council’s Steve Guveyan:
“Looking ahead, Killingly and other natural gas-fired power plants don’t threaten Connecticut’s embrace of renewables – they’ll actually make it succeed. Only gas-fired generation can provide the safe, reliable, 24/7/365 foundation for a future electricity grid increasingly powered by wind, solar and hydro. …
“We hear of promising developments in electrical energy storage, but it can’t yet affordably deliver the required reliability at mass scale, and it likely won’t for years or decades to come. The energy that costs millions of dollars for racks of chemical batteries to store and discharge, natural gas power plants like Killingly can produce for just hundreds of dollars, in seconds.”
The Killingly Energy Center is a project everyone in Connecticut should support. The state needs the electricity it would generate. From an economic standpoint, building the facility would support 450 construction jobs and 25 permanent, well-paying jobs once the plant begins operations.
The Siting Council should approve the plant project and move the process forward that will benefit residents and businesses in that part of Connecticut for decades to come.
About The Author
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Previously, Mark was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor at an assortment of newspapers. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela have two grown children and five grandchildren.
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