The foliage in New York and all across New England is reaching its splendid peak, a sign that winter is just around the corner. And this winter promises to be chilling in more ways than one.
In addition to coping with the region’s frigid temperatures, residents will have to grapple with soaring heating bills that far outstrip the nation’s already crippling inflation. For the U.S. as a whole, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) has a chilling forecast for what households will have to shell out to stay warm. Compared with last winter, natural gas prices will be up 28 percent, home heating oil 27 percent, electricity 10 percent, and propane 5 percent.
“Households with gas-powered furnaces will still spend about 31% less than those with electric furnaces or heat pumps,” the Wall Street Journal noted (Oct. 19). “Democrats want all Americans to switch to heat pumps, but heating with electricity costs more than gas. Heat pumps are also less efficient in colder climes. That’s one reason four million households in the Northeast still rely on oil to heat their homes.”
The Northeast’s Homemade Energy Crisis
When he wasn’t sexually harassing his female staffers, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) found time to block pipelines that would have brought cheap and abundant natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania to the Empire State and on into New England. That’s in addition to banning fracking in New York’s natural-gas-rich Southern Tier, which deprived the region of both affordable energy and the jobs the frackers would have created.
Cuomo may be gone, but the effects of his policies are still very much with us. Instead of being able to take advantage of affordable, pipeline-supplied domestic natural gas, New England has been forced to import far more expensive liquified natural gas (LNG) from overseas. U.S natural gas could be shipped from the Gulf Coast to New England, but the federal Jones Act mandates that only American-built, -flagged, and -crewed ships can transport goods between U.S. ports.
Fearing a political backlash from freezing, financially-stressed constituents, six New England governors asked Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to suspend the Jones Act to alleviate this winter’s heating costs. But instead of riding to the rescue, the Biden administration is threatening to restrict U.S. refined fuel exports. This would simply drive up the cost of natural gas globally, including the gas New England imports because it lacks pipelines connecting it to domestic sources.
As a result of this government-made mess, the Northeast is facing Third World reliability in its electricity supply. The region’s, and the Biden administration’s, disdain for fossil fuels and loving embrace of wind and solar power are a sure path to roaming blackouts. According to the Biden administration’s own figures, solar energy delivers electricity at only 25 percent of its capacity; for wind the comparable figure is 35 percent. Electricity stored in giant, and prohibitively expensive, battery arrays, which are supposed to provide backup power, will never be able to make up for the shortfall.
Strains on the Grid
“The region’s power operator, ISO New England Inc., has warned that an extremely cold winter could strain the reliability of the grid and potentially result in the need for rolling blackouts to keep electricity supply and demand in balance,” the Wall Street Journal reported (Oct. 18). “The warning comes as executives and analysts predict power producers could have to pay as much several times more than last year for gas deliveries if severe weather creates urgent need for spot-market purchases.”
The political class in the Northeast (not to mention California), like their counterparts in Washington, bear complete responsibility for this fiasco. They promised an energy transition, and they delivered one.