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The record-breaking deep freeze we went through over the past couple of weeks has thrown fuel on the fire (Ed. – inappropriate metaphor) for the debate over whether New England needs to build more pipelines to bring natural gas here. Basically, one of the reasons that we had no power problems or brownouts is that a lot of gas-fired power plants are “dual fuel” and were able to burn oil while the gas supply was being used up for heating. They had enough oil on hand (barely) largely because of something called the Winter Reliability Program, under which ISO-New England, the folks who run the six-state grid, bribed them to keep a supply around just in case.

What conclusion can you reach from this? Take your pick.

Article one: Since oil is environmentally nastier than natural gas, obviously this showed that our anti-pipeline push is counter-productive.

Article two: More pipelines are unnecessary, and wouldn’t have actually helped.

Article three: The system we’ve kludged together worked quite well, so why mess with it?

Article four: Semi-related, the feds rejected Rick Perry’s laughable plan to hand money to coal-fired power plants; he pretended it would help in situations exactly like this but coal-fired plants made no particular difference.

So there you have it: Clear as coal slurry (Ed – Good; appropriate metaphor).

Thanks to NHPR’s Sam Evans-Brown, who made this argument on Twitter, saving me time hunting down contrary opinions.


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