The Big Switch: New England's Energy Moment

Fred Bever / Maine Public Radio

For more than half a century, a massive, oil-fired plant has been churning out electricity from an island in the heart of Maine’s Casco Bay, where sailors use its towering smokestack for navigation.


Kathleen Masterson / Vermont Public Radio

Renewable energy has grown to nearly 10 percent of New England's energy mix. But here’s the problem: we can't control when the sun shines and the wind blows. That means sometimes extra renewable energy gets dumped, or a wind plant is told to power down.

Fred Bever / Maine Public Broadcasting News

A major transformation in the way energy is made, delivered and used is happening right now, and it’s disrupting the traditional business model of electric utility companies. That model includes building big infrastructure projects to transmit electricity.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Wind power is about to go big-time in New England, with the opening of the first offshore wind farm in the U.S., located off the Rhode Island coast. And onshore wind projects already dot the region. But Connecticut hasn’t joined the movement. The state doesn’t have a lot of wind, or available space, and only recently lifted a ban on wind turbine projects.

As part of the New England News Collaborative energy series, The Big Switch, WNPR’s Ryan Caron King goes to the tiny town of Colebrook, Connecticut to find out why wind power hasn’t taken off yet, and whether another natural resource - water reservoirs - might be the solution.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Even with the boom in renewable power, New England still gets about half its energy from natural gas - that’s a huge jump from 15 percent in 2000. The fracking boom in the U.S. meant a big investment in gas-fired power plants. But many environmentalists are pushing back, 

Angela Evancie / Vermont Public Radio File Photo

New England now gets nearly 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources - with more on the way. But that change is posing challenges for the region’s electric grid. The Big Switch: New England's Energy Moment looks at this transformative time for how the region powers itself.