ISO New England is holding back our clean energy future

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Sean Mahoney is executive vice president and director of the Conservation Law Foundation’s Maine Advocacy Center.

Here in Maine, the memory of winter is never too far behind, even in June. We’re no strangers to long, brutal winters marked by short days, snow and freezing temperatures. During the winter months, the last thing Mainers want is to lose power and freeze in the dark. And like clockwork every winter, there is an ominous warning that rolling blackouts as a result of insufficient fuel are a real and distinct possibility not only for Mainers but for everyone in New England.

So who’s responsible for causing this alarm? That would be ISO New England, the organization that oversees our six-state power grid. Since at least 2005, ISO has been claiming that we could freeze in the dark because we don’t have enough natural gas or enough power plants to keep the lights on each winter. The solution? According to ISO, piping in more fossil fuels unless we want to shut sections of the power grid down in controlled, rolling blackouts until more fossil fuels can be piped in.

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