ISO warns of summer electricity demand, possible blackouts


CONCORD – Much like last winter, New England power grid operators say there should be enough power to meet demand under normal weather conditions this summer, but a prolonged heat wave or other serious events may necessitate power outages.

Making its summer forecast, Independent System Operators New England Inc. said Wednesday that there should be enough electricity this summer to meet demand.

Like most other regions, New England’s highest electricity demand is in the summer due to air conditioning, while the region had peak demand during the winter months.

ISO officials said tight supply margins could develop if forecast peak system conditions associated with above-average hot and humid weather occur.

In such a case, they stated that they would take the necessary measures to maintain the reliability of the system.

ISO-NE is the independent, not-for-profit corporation responsible for keeping electricity flowing through the six New England states and ensuring the region has reliable, competitively priced wholesale electricity. , today and in the future.

In general, summer electricity demand is expected to reach 24,686 megawatts, but a prolonged heat wave could require up to 26,416 MW.

The highest electricity consumption last summer was 25,801 MW on June 29. The all-time electricity demand record was 28,130 MW set on August 2, 2006 during a prolonged heat wave.

According to ISO-New England officials, the organization expects to have more than 31,000 MW of capacity to meet electricity demand and required reserves.

ISO New England’s electrical resources include energy generated from fossil fuels, nuclear, hydroelectric, biomass, wind and solar, as well as programs to reduce energy consumption and electricity imported from New York and Canada.

Officials say the forecast includes a demand reduction of 2,100 MW through energy savings and a reduction of 900 MW during peak hours due to solar PV installations.

New England has 4,800 MW of solar power which produces the highest production in the early afternoon, pushing the region’s peak usage from mid-afternoon to early evening, officials said.

Although ISO New England expects an adequate supply of electricity this summer, conditions could require operators to take action to maintain system reliability in the event of a power plant or transmission failure, a prolonged heat wave, fuel supply shortages, or emission limits on fossil fuels. fuel generators.

The system manager can import energy from neighboring regions, use the system’s reserves, or ask residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce their energy consumption.

“In the event of severe events, system operators may be forced to request controlled power outages to protect the entire network,” officials said. “Climate change has made weather patterns more volatile and less predictable, increasing the potential for system operators to resort to these actions.”

During the past week, the highest usage was on Sunday May 22 at 18,568 MW and averaged between 13,431 MW and 14,277 MW over the past week.

The bank holiday weekend saw demand surge to 16,583 MW on Sunday and 17,301 MW on bank holiday Monday.

Rising global demand for oil and natural gas due to increased economic activity as the pandemic wanes and the war between Russia and Ukraine has driven up the price of fuel and energy. Russia is one of the world’s largest exporters of oil and natural gas.

The price of heating oil is above $6 per gallon in the Northeast and a similar increase has impacted natural gas prices, driving up energy and travel costs, which in turn increases inflation.

Near normal temperatures are expected for the next two weeks before the weather warms up again.

Garry Rayno can be reached at

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