New England generator retirements mostly in Massachusetts

New England power plants with over 5,200 megawatts of electric generation capacity have retired or announced plans to retire since 2013, according to the region's electric grid operator. Most of this capacity comes from facilities powered by coal, oil, and nuclear fuels -- and most of these retiring facilities are located in Massachusetts.

Regional transmission organization ISO New England Inc. operates the wholesale electricity markets covering all six New England states (except northernmost Maine.) But changes in technology and the prices of both fuels and renewable generators are significantly reshaping the mix of generating resources used to power the region, with older and more carbon-emitting power plants retiring and new, cleaner generating capacity being proposed and developed.

According to ISO New England, more than 5,200 MW of generating capacity have retired or announced plans to retire since 2013. But the geographic effects of these retirements are not spread evenly across the region. The grid operator notes that 3,778 megawatts (or 72%) of this retiring capacity comes from generators located in Massachusetts, such as the Pilgrim Station nuclear power plant (slated to close in 2019) and the 1,537-megawatt Brayton Point coal-fired plant which closed in 2017. 737 megawatts of retiring capacity are located in Connecticut. Another 640 are located in Vermont -- primarily Entergy's now-closed Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

Meanwhile, ISO New England says just 4 megawatts of New Hampshire capacity has retired or announced plans to retire since 2013, plus 13 megawatts in Rhode Island and another 37 in Maine.

The grid operator reports that another 5,000 megawatts of coal- and oil-fired generators are at risk for retirement in coming years.