Coal-fired power station in Bow wins another year of guranteed funding

  • The Merrimack Station power plant in Bow is seen at dusk on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

  • Vapor billows out of the Merrimack Station in Bow as seen from River Road in Bow, N.H., on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER

  • FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File) Jim Cole

Monitor staff
Published: 3/22/2022 2:38:29 PM
Modified: 3/22/2022 2:37:37 PM

The coal-fired power plant in Bow has won another year’s funding from a program designed to guarantee future electricity supplies, although at about three-quarters of previous levels.

The two units at Merrimack Station, the last coal-fired power plant in New England, will receive about $785,000 per month for being on call in the 2025-2026 period under what is known as the forward capacity market.

Payments are assigned by an auction system run by ISO-New England, which operates the six-state power grid. Cheapest results bid to fill what ISO-NE says is the amount of electricity needed each month, three years in the future.

The two coal-fired units in Bow won at auction a total level of 310 megawatts rather than their maximum of 438 megawatts, the level at which they had won previous forward capacity auctions. This year’s auction paid between $2.50 and $2.61 per kilowatt-month, roughly the same price as last year but more than the $2 that was paid the year before that.

The money comes out of electric bills and will be paid whether or not the units are called on to produce electricity. Power plants also get paid for any power they generate.

Virtually all wholesale power producers, from Seabrook Station to hydropower dams to gas-fired plants to wind and solar farms, bid into the auction. Also included are non-traditional sources such as battery storage, which doesn’t create power but passes it on when needed, and demand response, which doesn’t increase the supply of electricity but reduces the need for it, accomplishing the same thing.

Merrimack Station is owned by Granite Shore Power, an investment group that bought it from Eversource in 2017. It operates as a “peaker plant,” providing power occasionally to meet peak demand or when other fuels are unavailable such as during winter when most natural gas is used for heating rather than power.

Also winning in the forward capacity auction were two small kerosene-fired turbine units located in Bow, totaling 33 megawatts, that can turn on and off very quickly.

(David Brooks can be reached at (603) 369-3313 or or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)
David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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