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NPCC Says Power Will Be Short During Peaks

NPCC Says Power Will Be Short During Peaks

Although officials at the Northeast Power Coordinating Council (NPCC), which oversees electric power grid reliability for Northeastern North America, are forecasting sufficient electricity supplies to meet demand this summer, they cautioned last week that reserves are low.

Operable capacity within the New York and New England areas is projected to be insufficient to fully meet NPCC's operating reserve criteria during certain peak load hours, the organization said. The supply situation on hot and humid days this summer will be tight in some parts of the NPCC region. However, the reliability report released yesterday by the NPCC concludes that appropriate actions have been taken by grid operators to maximize the availability of supplies and to minimize the potential for any bulk power system related customer service disruptions.

The NPCC region includes the New York and New England power grids, as well as the power grids of Ontario, Quebec, and Maritime Provinces of Canada.

"We expect that both New York and New England will experience tight supply situations on peak demand days this summer," said Edward Schwerdt, Executive Director of NPCC. "This means New York and New England will likely have days when operating reserves are lower than desired levels, but both grid operators have procedures in place to respond to such situations."

These procedures include calling upon neighboring grids for additional supplies, reducing demand by invoking interruptible contracts with certain large customers or asking the public to conserve electricity during peak demand periods.

In related action, regulators from six New England states last week came out in support of a plan by New England Power Pool's (NEPOOL) for a "load-response program" that would offer financial incentives to wholesale and retail electric customers who agree to interrupt their service during times of power shortages this summer. The level of payment for interruption would be negotiated between the wholesale provider and retail customers. The proposed program, which would be temporary and voluntary, "will enhance the reliability of the bulk power system, reduce the possibility of exorbitant clearing price levels, and prepare end-use customers for a day when load responses to fluctuations in wholesale market price become commonplace," said the New England Conference of Public Utilities Commissioners (NECPUC), a not-for-profit corporation comprised of regulators from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. NECPUC said it "fully supports" the load-response proposal, which NEPOOL has asked FERC to approve expeditiously.

These demand-side management procedures and emergency supply requests should be all too familiar. Some had to be used only a few days ago when spring temperatures and humidity made it seem more like summer. The sudden heat caught many northeastern power generators with their plants down for spring maintenance, forcing the New England ISO and the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland Interconnection and their members to issue warnings and scramble to find available power (see NGI, May 15) in other regions.

"Because the grids are interconnected with one another, it allows for the movement of power between grids," Schwerdt noted. "Under emergency conditions, NPCC will facilitate delivery of excess supply to where it is most needed this summer to assist in maintaining bulk power system reliability throughout the region." Copies of the Summer 2000 Reliability Assessment are available at www.npcc.org. Rocco Canonica

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