The people managing New England's energy supply have long known that retiring power plants are a problem. With Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station closing in 2019, a total of about 13 percent of New England’s power generation is now slated to go away.

Massachusetts officials are worried about an energy deficit, and at worst, rolling blackouts — so how do we fill that deficit?

"The thing that makes Pilgrim so important to the region, which is different than solar and wind, for example, is it’s always on — 24/7, 365," Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday on Boston Public Radio. "There’s a baseload capacity issue associated with Pilgrim that we have to compensate for.”

The Baker administration has two major initiatives underway that it says will do that. One involves natural gas and the other, hydropower.

Starting with hydro, Baker has proposed a bill that would require major electric utilities to seek long-term contracts from hydropower generators. Basically the only place to get that much hydro is Canada, and critics say mandating the purchase of Canadian power is a government intrusion that would drive competitors out.

Baker’s Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary, Matthew Beaton, disagrees, saying the legislation includes reviews and checks and balances that would address critics’ concerns.

"Hydro is really in a unique place that provides three of the main things that we’re trying to accomplish in the Baker-Polito administration, and that is address the high cost of energy in Massachusetts, being the fifth most costly state for electricity in the region, addressing our environmental goals and the reduction of carbon, and reliability.”

But there are people who say hydropower isn't so environmentally friendly, because companies in some cases flood whole forests to build the big dams that are used to produce power. The decomposing trees produce carbon emissions.

And New England might not need new hydropower to make up for Pilgrim’s closure, according to Peter Shattuck, the Massachusetts director of the environmental group Acadia Center.

"Some of the perception and rhetoric around a pending crisis is overstated," he said. "Even with Pilgrim coming offline, we've got more than enough resources proposed to replace that generating capacity."

Shattuck says there are a lot of proposed power plants that could bring plenty of supply onto the energy market.

"One of the challenges is of those 12,000 megawatts that've been proposed, two-thirds of that is natural gas," he said. "The other third is wind. So we could increase our dependence on natural gas."

Here's where the Baker administration's second major move comes in. Last week the state issued an order making it easier for companies to build new natural gas pipelines. It allows utilities like National Grid and Eversource to charge electric customers for the cost for constructing pipelines. That has a lot of people worried, including Shattuck.

"If we move ahead on a subsidy for gas, effectively putting a finger on the scale, and saying gas is our preferred fuel in the electric sector, it would also make it harder to achieve our long-term greenhouse gas objectives," he said.

That's because natural gas plants produce carbon emissions. Still, Beaton says we can’t ignore the increased need for natural gas.

"We are getting to a point now where we’re becoming more reliant on natural gas, just to be able to turn our lights on when we get home,” he said.

On rare high-demand days, like the cold, winter days when we all turn up the heat, the region occasionally runs out of natural gas to run power plants. That may happen more frequently as our dependence on natural gas grows.

Companies have proposed several pipelines to bring more natural gas into the region, but Beaton says those companies must show federal regulators that they have guaranteed buyers before pipelines are approved — and the new state order helps them do that.

"Our process does not engage in picking one pipeline over another," Beaton said. "It’s just a mechanism to allow for the advancement of financing and ultimately of construction, and not necessarily picking any one pipeline as a winner or loser.”

The state picking winners and losers, though, is what many people fear will happen, including the New England Power Generators Association, which represents most of the natural gas generators in the state. NEPGA President Dan Dolan says pipeline companies can line up buyers on their own.

"I do not think there is a need for the state to come in and play this type of role, intervening in the markets," Dolan said.

Dolan points out that despite price spikes last winter, the price of energy in Massachusetts is going down. June was the lowest priced month for wholesale electricity since 2003, and Dolan thinks the state is overreacting to the closures of power plants like Pilgrim. He trusts the free market will create its own solutions.