A possible loss of the Everett Marine LNG terminal can jeopardize the reliability of New England’s energy supply during extreme cold weather, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Corp (NERC) said on Monday.
Constellation Energy, a U.S. energy firm, owns the 1,413-megawatt Mystic natural gas-fired power plant and the Everett liquefied natural gas (LNG) import facility on the Mystic River in Everett, Massachusetts. The Mystic power facility is scheduled to retire after May 2024.
The company provides fuel to its Mystic power plant and to gas providers in New England using the LNG imported at Everett. However, the retirement plan may change if the regional grid operator or another body determines the plant is required to preserve reliability or for other reasons.
The regulators noted evidence indicating that Everett’s retirement would be “manageable” for the electric system, at least in the near-term. But if these expectations did “not materialize as anticipated”, it may become difficult to maintain affordability and reliability in the event of a major winter event, they said in a joint statement.
In September, FERC and NERC presented findings and recommendations of their joint inquiry into the power outages and rolling blackouts during winter storm Elliott in December 2022. The inquiry found that the sub-freezing temperatures and extreme cold weather caused unplanned electric generation supply losses exceeding 90,000 megawatts.
“Although much of the attention has focused on the electric outages, the storm’s effects on the natural gas system, and the local gas distribution system in particular, cannot be overlooked,” FERC and NERC warned. The storm lowered flows of natural gas into the pipelines at a time when shippers were requesting increased volumes of natural gas, dramatically lowering line pressures and putting stress on the natural gas system.