August 2, 2010 - my electricity supply mix; repowering small hydro

Monday, August 2, 2010

Do you know where the energy you consume came from? Electricity consumers in Maine like me get mailings detailing the fuel mix behind our electric generation. Here's the one I received last week:

Standard offer supply mix

This shows that the largest share of my kilowatt-hours (37.9%) comes from hydro-electric generation. Natural gas is next (25.8%), with nuclear from Seabrook close behind (23.1%). For the remaining renewables, I get 0.5% from biomass and 0.6% from municipal solid waste combustion -- totaling a renewable portfolio of 39%. This is well in excess of Maine's basic 30% RPS, suggesting that renewables can be very cost-effective at providing energy, at least in light of the current basket of renewable power incentives like grants, tax credits, and long-term contracts.

The mailings also provide information on air emissions from this generation mix.
Standard offer 2

This supplier's mix averaged 452.95 lbs CO2 per MWh generated, which is stated as 56.7% below the New England average. (Credit our reliance on renewables, as well as natural gas, for this number.) The supplier's mix also emitted 0.4 lbs NOx per MWh, and 0.7 lbs SOx per MWh -- all over 56% below New England's average.

An interesting bit of late-breaking news: Maine Governor Baldacci has nominated David Littell to fill the vacant seat on the Maine Public Utilities Commission. Dave is currently the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

After 378 years of continuous ownership and operation, what is believed to be the country's oldest family farm is up for sale.

As we look for renewable energy sources, many people are considering repowering small hydro dams. Many dams formerly had energy development, either mechanical or hydroelectric. Scribner's Mill, in the Maine town of Harrison, once had such a small dam and sawmill. Now, a group of historical enthusiasts called Scribner's Mill Preservation Inc. is proposing to rebuild the dam to power the restored sawmill. The Maine DEP is now reviewing their plans.

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