Massachusetts’ role as a leader energy efficiency and renewable energy cannot be questioned. In recent decades, we have transitioned our economy from being heavily reliant on dirty coal and oil to a new energy infrastructure built with a conversion of the majority of our power plants to natural gas, greater energy efficiency efforts and more renewables.
As of this spring, the Commonwealth had installed more than 841 megawatts of solar electricity, bringing us more than half way to the state’s goal of 1,600 megawatts by 2020. Of the 351 towns and cities in Massachusetts, 350 already have solar installations. Although wind currently does not contribute significantly to Massachusetts’s energy supply, the Commonwealth has installed 107 megawatts of wind capacity and has 83 wind turbines.
Even though the Commonwealth continues to make progress towards a more green and renewable future, natural gas is needed because renewable energy natural fluctuates. While it is sunny and windy, natural gas plants can decline in power use – but when the sun sets or on cloudy days without wind, natural gas can come online in extremely short periods to compensate for the loss of this renewable energy.
Currently, natural gas power plants are the most efficient source of backup power and can be brought online in under an hour and in some cases as rapidly as 15 minutes. It takes coal-fired plants 8 to 48 hours to start up.
Having a flexible back up, like natural gas, allows the Commonwealth to invest and build more renewable energy sources. By expanding natural gas capacity in New England, we are facilitating the development of more solar and wind power and creating a more green and reliable future.