Exelon plays power politics

Exelon plays power politics

Threatens to shutter Mystic station unless payments increased

EXELON GENERATION is threatening to shut down its Mystic Generation Station in mid-2022 unless the operator of the regional power grid offers more money to units that generate electricity reliably and provide regional fuel security.

The Everett-based Mystic station is one of the two largest electricity-generating facilities in New England. It is capable of generating nearly 2,000 megawatts of electricity, which matches the output of the Millstone nuclear plants in Connecticut.

The Mystic station consists of six plants that run on natural gas (1,414 megawatts), one plant that can run on natural gas or oil (576 megawatts), and an eighth plant that runs just on oil (8.6 megawatts).

Exelon, which is based in Chicago, earlier this year tried to withdraw its plants from an auction the regional grid operator uses to secure power commitments for future years, but the grid operator, ISO-New England, rejected the request. In a statement in late February, the ISO said its review of the matter indicated “transmission lines in Greater Boston could be overloaded” if several of the Mystic units were not available in 2021-2022.

A decision by Exelon to close down the Mystic station could not be overridden by the ISO. An ISO spokeswoman said on Monday that the grid operator will conduct a study to determine how Exelon’s planned retirements would affect power system reliability.

The ISO has indicated that it may have to offer plant owners new incentives to remain online, but few specifics have been provided so far.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Ron DeGregorio, the president of Exelon, said in a statement that additional financial incentives are needed. “The ISO-New England market fails to properly reflect the reliability and fuel security benefits that these power plants provide to the region,” he said.

In what Exelon described as a “related move,” the company said it has agreed to purchase the liquefied natural gas terminal in Everett owned by ENGIE North America. Exelon said the purchase was necessary to guarantee access to natural gas for its Mystic plants while they continue to run.