ISO New England Sees Adequate Power Supply

Thanks to the addition of several new power plants throughout the New England region over the past two years and more generation set to come online in the near future, ISO New England Inc. last Tuesday said that there should be a sufficient supply of electricity to meet New England's energy needs this summer. But it also warned that extremely hot days or a prolonged heat wave could force the implementation of conservation measures.

"ISO New England is forecasting an adequate supply of electricity for the New England region this summer," said Stephen G. Whitley, ISO New England's vice-president of system operations. "New England does not face the supply problems that are at the root of the crisis in California," he added. "Because of the addition of several new power plants throughout the New England region over the past two years, the growth in supply is outpacing the growth in demand," Whitley noted.

Whitley presented ISO New England's summer electricity forecast at a news conference in Boston last week

ISO New England expects the region's peak demand to reach 23,650 MW on at least one occasion this summer based on historical weather and electricity usage data. Also, there is a 50% chance that New England will experience the type of hot and humid weather, reaching 92 degrees or higher, that would boost electricity demand to this level on any one day in June, July or August. The existing record of 22,544 MW was set on July 6, 1999.

With 1,000 MW of new electric generation added since June 2000, and another 1,600 MW expected to be on-line this summer, New England projects a net generating capacity of 28,100 MW this summer. The grid is operated with a built-in operating reserve margin to assure that adequate resources are available to respond to unanticipated power plant or transmission system outages.

ISO New England advised it has taken steps to assure the maximum resources will be available. These steps, set to take effect this summer, include implementing a new energy management program designed to reduce consumption of electricity during peak periods. Also, ISO New England has arrangements with authorities outside the region to purchase additional electricity, if needed, when its own generating capacity falls below required levels. But the ISO also said that if the power supply situation in certain areas to the west and south of New England is tight during peak demand periods this summer, then this could affect the availability of power available for import into the region.

Whitley was asked during Tuesday's news conference, whether ISO New England expects to see price spikes in the region similar to the ones seen in California. "The answer is no, we don't expect to see those kind of price spikes happen for several reasons," Whitley said.

"First of all, the biggest reason is we're going into a period of very healthy supply. And remember, California basically hasn't built any new capacity in 10 years and their load has continued to grow at a rapid pace with high demand, increased population, high-tech industries --- just very rapid growth with no new capacity," Whitley said. In contrast, although the New England region is growing at a moderate rate, significant capacity is being added at the same time.

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