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BARGE LAYING A NATURAL GAS PIPELINE
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ENERGY: A MAJOR COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT ISSUE
When you flip on the light or turn up the thermostat, do you wonder where the energy comes from? With most of our energy sources in Massachusetts coming from out of state, it's an easy question to avoid. Each year, Bay State residents and businesses consume more than one and a half quadrillion BTU's of energy. Because so much of the state's raw energy is brought in by ship, many storage and generating facilities have been located on the Commonwealth's coast, which is just one reason energy is a major coastal management issue.
THE SOURCES: CURRENT AND PROJECTED
Natural gas, currently the source of 30 percent of our energy, is mostly piped from the Gulf of Mexico, western Canada, and the Scotian Shelf off the Canadian Maritime Provinces. About 15 percent of the natural gas used in Massachusetts is imported as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), primarily from Trinidad. The huge reserves that have been found off the Canadian Maritimes, and the demands of new electrical generating facilities for clean fuel, however, are expected to increase natural gas use in the region. By 2005, it is anticipated that natural gas will be used to generate 45 percent of the region's electricity.
About 15 percent of the state's power is generated from coal and nuclear energy, with two large coal-fired power plants and one nuclear plant in Massachusetts. It is not expected that any new coal or nuclear generating facilities will be built in the foreseeable future.
ELECTRICITY GENERATION AND DEREGULATION
New England power plants can generate about 25,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity per day. The region can also import up to 4,200 MW from New York, Quebec, and New Brunswick. The transmission system, or power grid, consists of about 7,000 miles of high-capacity electric lines.
This structure has led to enormous interest in developing additional generating capacity, as well as renewable sources of energy in Massachusetts. In the past year, about 1,000 MW of new capacity were brought on line, another 6,500 MW have been permitted, and 3,500 MW are under construction and will be on line within the next 2-3 years. To fuel these plants, a high-pressure gas pipeline to bring natural gas from Sable Island, Nova Scotia, is under review. A proposal to develop a 420 MW wind farm in Nantucket Sound is also currently under consideration.
REVIEW: POWER PLANTS AFFECTING THE COASTAL ZONE
In 1998, four existing coastal generating plants that are within CZM's jurisdiction were purchased from local utilities by large generating companies. Sithe acquired Boston Edison facilities in South Boston on the Reserved Channel, in Everett on the Mystic River, and in Weymouth on the Fore River. No changes were proposed to the South Boston plant, but Sithe wanted to double the capacity of the Mystic and Fore River plants and convert them from oil to gas fired turbines. At the Mystic plant, CZM worked with the owners to identify marine docking facilities, allowing the construction materials to be barged to the site rather than trucked through the streets of Everett. At the Fore River, CZM and other agencies objected to the owner's plan to use large amounts of river water to cool the plant and instead successfully advocated for the use of an air-cooling system.
Another existing power plant at Kendall Square on the Charles River in Cambridge was purchased by Southern Energy (now Murant). Again, plant cooling was a major issue. The applicant proposed an innovative cooling design using a diffuser to spread heated water throughout the Charles River Basin, however many resource agencies are concerned that the heated water will have adverse effects on fish. These agencies, with CZM, are working with the applicant to modify the design to avoid fishery impacts.
REVIEW: NATURAL GAS PIPELINES
REVIEW: WIND POWER
Several other projects are expected to be proposed in the near future including an offshore gas pipeline from Sable Island passing along the continental shelf off Massachusetts to the New York/New Jersey area, and a wind and wave energy project on Nantucket shoals.
Though new natural gas pipelines will become available, distillate fuels, such as gasoline, jet fuel, and home heating oil, will continue to be transported by ships and barges. A very significant percentage of the storage capacity for these fuels is bridge-bound, meaning that the storage tanks are upstream of often aging bridges. Two bridge repair projects in the Boston area alone have upset regional fuel delivery schedules over the past the past three years, and the projects are not finished yet. It is important that the state develop an overall plan for repair and replacement of bridges that takes maritime needs into account.
CZM will continue to work with the energy suppliers and generators to ensure that alterations and additions to our badly needed energy system are built in a manner that is consistent with Massachusetts coastal policies.