A thoughtful, well grounded op-ed by former state rep Doug Gablinske in Thursday’s Providence Journal, who makes the reality case that the electricity to be generated by the proposed Burrillville power plant is very much needed.
… the fact is, New England is facing an energy crisis. More than 10,000 megawatts of the 30,000 the region needs — a whopping one-third — will be going offline in the coming years. This includes the closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, with the Pilgrim nuclear plant potentially to follow. How will we fill that gap?
How, indeed? Neither population nor our electric demand has dropped by one third. And for reasons of availability, reliability and high cost, renewables absolutely cannot fill this energy gap. Remember also, per a report put out by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, that Rhode Island’s pursuit of green energy is a cost-of-carbon-saved non-starter per the EPA’s own standard.
Mr. Gablinske makes the case that the plant will generate jobs in addition to electricity, which it will, of course. In this case, however, the implications to the state’s economy and the impact on our cost of living of the plant’s product (electricity) outweigh the normally paramount matter of jobs created. Once again, from his op-ed.
Like all Rhode Islanders, I’ve watched the electricity bill for my home go up and up. I shake my head when I see Rhode Island consistently ranked among the top five for the highest electric costs in the lower 48 states. I’ve watched as some of my neighbors and friends leave Rhode Island for less expensive states out west or down south.
The same holds true for businesses.
Mr. Gablinske raises a critical point that too often goes unacknowledged when energy options are discussed: cost. It is unrealistic to assume that the loss of a third of our electric generating capacity will not eventually come around to bite us – not just in even higher electric rates but in increasing the vulnerability of the grid by decreasing both generating capacity and fuel sources. (The latter has already alarmingly happened under the draconian EPA regulations implemented by the Obama administration.) Further, well-intentioned environmentalists and environmental-minded politicians need to stop pretending that cost cannot and SHOULD not (cue back of hand to forehead) be a factor in fulfilling our energy needs when, in fact, it very much is.
As I have said, we will all cheer if and when a feasible, affordable green energy source has been identified. Until then, shutting down all other energy sources and blocking the construction of the new, replacement plants that they fuel is sheer folly.