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January 7, 2014

Natural gas no longer New England's top power fuel

HBJ File Photo The cold weather impeded the ability of natural gas power plants like the NRG facility in Middletown to get enough fuel for their generators.

Nuclear energy was New England’s electricity fuel of choice on Tuesday, as the extended cold weather forced natural gas power plants to decrease their output.

On Tuesday afternoon, nuclear reactors accounted for 29 percent of the electricity generated in New England, compared to 27 percent for natural gas power plants, which typically accounts for more than half of the region’s power generation in warmer months.

The decrease in natural gas electricity generation forced regional grid administrator ISO New England to call on costlier and dirtier coal and oil plants to make up the difference. Oil generators made up 15 percent of power generation while coal plants accounted for 14 percent.

ISO had warned the region about the increasing dependence on natural gas as both electricity generator and home heating fuel. As the weather continued to be cold Tuesday, the demand for natural gas in home heating spiked, leaving less fuel for the power plants.

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