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Parts of New England, NY Walking Summer Power Supply Tightrope

The Northeast Power Coordinating Council (NPCC) last Wednesday released the results of comprehensive reliability assessments, projecting the region will have adequate supplies of electricity and will meet its system reliability criteria this summer under normal summer weather conditions.

However, NPCC cautioned that under extreme weather conditions, such as a widespread and prolonged heat wave with high humidity and near record temperatures, the implementation of established operating procedures and programs may be employed to keep electricity supply and demand in balance.

Portions of New England and New York could experience a very limited number of times when use of interruptible power contracts, voltage reductions and/or reductions in reserve requirements may be required.

If unusual conditions materialize, such as reductions in planned resources, delay of expected transmission projects and/or additional transmission limitations into NPCC coincident with higher than expected loads, the use of these operating procedures is more likely to be required in Boston and southwestern Connecticut, and, to a lesser extent, in New York City and Long Island, NPCC said.

NPCC Chairman Charles Durkin said that completion of the NSTAR 345-kV transmission reliability project planned for this summer "will provide the ability to transfer approximately 24% more power into the Boston load pocket and help to alleviate much of the reliability concerns."

While the overall power supply is forecast to be adequate for New England, as in the past, limitations on the bulk power system serving southwestern Connecticut again has the potential to create reliability concerns. Transmission projects planned to address these reliability concerns are expected to be completed during the 2006-2009 time period.

In the meantime, a combination of generation units, demand response resources, and peak load reducing conservation and load management (CL&M) projects representing approximately 250 MW of emergency supplemental supply will be available this summer to meet the anticipated reliability needs of southwestern Connecticut.

"While an adequate overall supply of electricity is projected for NPCC this summer, the need for additional resources in New England is fast approaching," said Edward Schwerdt, NPCC's executive director.

ISO New England (ISO-NE) last week issued its summer 2006 electricity demand outlook. Summer electricity use for New England is forecast to reach 27,025 MW on at least one day this summer under normal weather conditions of about 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Extreme weather conditions, such as an extended heat wave of approximately 95 degrees Fahrenheit, could increase peak demand for electricity by 1,760 MW, ISO-NE said. The current record for regional electricity use is 26,885 MW, set on July 27, 2005.

"New England should have sufficient electric generation to meet demand this summer," said Stephen Whitley, ISO-NE's chief operating officer. "However, the region or local areas could experience tight supply situations if generation is constrained or if hot and humid weather increases demand. In these cases, the ISO has a series of longstanding measures to maintain reliability by keeping electricity supply and demand in balance."

Whitley added, "While demand for electricity continues to grow across New England, construction of new generating resources has stagnated. Without new investment in power infrastructure and greater energy efficiency and conservation, New England could soon be consuming more electricity than it can produce or buy from its neighbors."

New York State, as a whole, forecasts an adequate supply of electricity, although the state could require significant amounts of electricity to be imported during peak demand periods, NPCC said. Approximately 500 MW from new generation located in New York City is expected to be available for service prior to the summer peak.

However, the power supply in New York City and Long Island could be tight, if extreme weather conditions prevail, coupled with delays in the operation of expected generation and reductions in expected purchases.

In Canada, Ontario forecasts that there will be periods this summer when its system will be strained and the province will need to rely on imports to maintain reliability. However, the outlook for the summer of 2006 is improved compared to last summer when a number of emergency control actions were required.

Generation has increased by more than 600 MW with the addition of a reactivated 515 MW nuclear unit and a new 117 MW gas-fired unit. More than 200 MW from three new wind power projects is also expected to be available by the summer, of which 10% is assumed to be reliably available at peak times. An additional 118 MW of new generation in Ontario is also anticipated to be in service by late July.

Quebec and the Canadian Maritime Provinces forecast more than an adequate supply of electricity during the summer period. Both these areas are winter peaking regions. Quebec expects approximately 500 MW of new generation in-service by September 2006.

NPCC, the organization that oversees international electric power grid reliability for northeastern North America, annually performs comprehensive seasonal assessments of electricity supply and demand reliability for eastern Canada, New England and the city and state of New York.

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