Forbes has some glowing praise for fuel oil and it’s role in the brutal 2014 winter.
Why? Well, when the frigid temperatures send people running to their thermostats, the natural gas plants just couldn’t keep up.
Even the coldest days can’t stop a fuel oil delivery!
In January, temperatures dipped well below the 20-year historical average in New England, but only a few times and only for one or two days at a time.
‘We had a cold winter, but we had spots of cold as opposed to, in 2004, where there was extended cold,” said Commissioner Moeller, while speaking at a technical conference convened by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in early April. ‘We have to assume that we will have another winter, if not like this one, perhaps even worse where an extended cold snap could further expose our vulnerabilities.”
These ‘spots of cold” created a series of crises for the electric grid that came dangerously close to becoming catastrophes.
For better or worse, oil was likely the only reason they didn’t.
In New England, coal and oil-fired power plants ran at or near full capacity for most of the winter. By contrast, natural-gas-fired power plants produced far less than their total capacity.
All five natural gas pipelines that serve New England operated at or near full capacity. Needless to say, the natural gas pipeline system serving New England is far more constrained than anyone had previously appreciated ‘ with the possible exception of the ISO-NE.