- The 57-year-old, 822 megawatt, oil-burning Wyman Station, which was previously deemed obsolete and put up for sale despite being Maine’s biggest power plant, proved invaluable to owner NextEra Energy last winter when New England’s natural gas pipeline system couldn’t meet demand and the region’s standby program was vital to ISO-New England.
- With the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant and two Massachusetts fossil fuel plants going offline, NextEra expects Wyman’s electricity to be vital again this winter and until natural gas pipeline capacity can be expanded after this year’s short supply sent gas prices to 10-year highs and made oil the cheaper choice, according to an ISO-New England report.
- NextEra has valued Wyman Station at $50 million for tax purposes. Yarmouth, Maine, gets $1 million in taxes, 4% of its tax base, from the plant.
Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co. said gas pipeline constraints are forcing New England to rely more on oil units like Wyman but it is unclear when new capacity will be available. Although New England governors are promoting expansion and private pipeline companies are proposing projects, environmental groups want wind and other renewables and oppose new pipeline infrastructure.
On the winter’s coldest days, ISO-New England reported, very few gas-fired generators were producing electricity because the bulk of the gas supply was being used to meet existing contracts for heating homes and businesses. The report that shows that oil plants generated 25% of New England’s electricity from January 20 to 24, while coal plants contributed 8%, natural gas provided 24%, and nuclear, hydropower, and other renewables supplied the balance.
Unless the weather is mild this winter, the need for oil and coal plants is expected to increase due to the Massachusetts fossil and Vermont nuclear closures.