Energy plays an important part in the economies that make up this mega region of 55 million made up of two sub regions, the New England and the Mid Atlantic. Although, this mega region is mostly rural, it contains important cities as Boston in the North, New York in the centre and Washington in the South. Its economy is dominated by finance, education, healthcare and manufacturing, contributing about 4 percent to the US economy.
Figure 1 Northeast US
Power markets in the New England and Mid-Atlantic are the leading markets in terms of power usage in the US, the region have become more reliant on natural gas over the past several years, due to local energy policies and the arrival of cheap shale gas. As a result this has led to the increasing number of coal, oil and nuclear power plants facing closure. As a result there has been a series of closures of such nuclear plants as the 620 MW Vermont Yankee and 2 GW at Indian Point in New York State. In addition, we are seeing the closure of coal plants, such as the 1.12 GW coal power plant at Brayton Point near Boston. Such power plants are being replaced by an increasing number of natural gas power plants including conversion of the 674MW Salem Harbour coal- and oil-fired plant to natural gas near Boston, and some renewables, such as the US first operating offshore wind farm, the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm off of Rhode Island.
In addition, we have seen a slow increase in the usage of renewables, both from traditional hydro power plants in the region and Canada. However, other forms of power generation like solar and wind remain small. As for energy storage, large scale pumped storage hydro remains useful in grid balancing, but small scale onsite energy provided by the likes of Tesla, Panasonic and Toshiba, face tough competition from gas peaking plants.
The North East has experienced a slow decline in demand for power over the past few years which is likely to continue, due to improvements in energy efficiency and decline of energy intensive industries. However, the big story has been in the growth of gas power generation in the region, which has begun to replace both coal and nuclear output for both peak and base load output. For instance coal-fired power tumbled from 31 percent to 11 percent, the EIA said in a report. See figure 2.