Another View: We need all sources of clean energy, popular or not

The price of natural gas is the primary reason that electricity prices have soared. Natural gas represents 47% of New England’s power generation, nuclear 31%, renewables 12%, which actually includes burning refuse and wood, and hydropower 10%. It’s important to note that nuclear plants are old and are likely to phase out.

Not only is natural gas driving prices, but it’s also an environmentally unsound source of energy. Fracking and leaky pipelines lead to the release of large amounts of methane, which has nine times the warming impact as carbon dioxide. Once it is burned to create electricity, it also releases CO2, of course.

Most of our natural gas is delivered through pipelines from Canada and New Hampshire.

Our state and national goals are to transition to electric transportation and heating, which could double electricity demand. So, do the math. If you double demand and phase out natural gas we will need four times as much clean energy as is currently available in New England. And if nuclear power goes away we’ll need much more.

Many seem to think we can just handle that with popular sources such as solar and out-of-sight wind. We need much more of both, but we also need 24-hour, 365-day sources such as Canadian hydropower. The NECEC transmission line could deliver 1,200 megawatts of clean energy into the grid, but it wasn’t popular. The Maine DEP lists hydropower as Maine’s largest renewable source, which generates more power than natural gas in Maine. Still, some NECEC opponents, with financial support from fossil fuel companies, claim that there are no climate benefits from Canadian hydropower even though reservoirs in northern Quebec release less methane than Maine’s.

Also, we have deferred offshore wind, a major potential source of clean energy in Maine because it’s unpopular with the lobster industry, even though the biggest threat to lobsters is the warming and acidification of the Gulf of Maine due to greenhouse gases.

Climate change is a very serious threat that requires immediate and aggressive action. Our unwillingness to approve anything essential but unpopular can lead to bad outcomes, particularly for our children and grandchildren.


Tony Marple lives in Whitefield.

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