Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Drought, Gas-Fired Power Plant Nearly Snuff Out Providence Waterfire

DSC_7665With southern New England in a mild drought and Providence River water needed to cool Dominion's natural gas-fired Manchester Street Power Station, last week Providence's famed WaterFire had to ditch the gondolas:
Organizers of the popular public art display, featuring small bonfires on rivers in downtown Providence, say Friday night's partial WaterFire lighting in the Waterplace Park Basin will be done by volunteers in waders. Typically, boaters keep the flames lit, and Friday's plans called for the city's hurricane barrier to be closed to ensure sufficiently high water levels.

But with high temperatures forecast this weekend, a power plant on the river bank may need to run at full capacity. So the hurricane barrier must be opened to ensure a constant flow of coolant water.
New England remains overly dependent on nuclear and natural gas-fired power, with a lingering but shrinking slice of coal-fired power, all of which are extremely water-intensive. As global warming continues fueling more droughts, water-intensive energy sources are at risk of becoming increasingly unreliable.

Which makes some other news this week especially important: New Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is moving forward with offshore wind leases off Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Offshore wind and solar power will not only strengthen our energy security - hopefully they mean we won't have to get used to the hip waders at WaterFire.
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