T&D World Magazine

New England Could Set Peak Electricity Use Record This Summer

New England should have sufficient electric supplies this summer to meet consumer demand for electricity, according to ISO New England Inc., the operator of the region's bulk power system and wholesale electricity markets. Nevertheless, ISO forecasts indicate that New England's consumers could set a record for peak electricity use this summer if hot and humid weather prevails.

"Our forecasts indicate that New England should have enough electricity supply to meet demand this summer," said Stephen G. Whitley, senior vice president of ISO New England. "However, if consumer demand for electricity does reach record levels, demand resources and conservation efforts will play a critical role."

During an August 2006 heat wave, demand resources were used to lower overall demand on the power grid by a maximum of 625 MW on Aug. 2, 2006. Nonetheless, consumers set the current all-time record for electricity use that day when demand reached 28,127 MW. The increase in electricity consumption is due largely to air conditioning use during the summer. Currently, more than 900 MW of demand resources are available this summer. Demand resources include load management, distributed generation, and energy-efficiency resources.

The ISO forecasts that, under normal weather conditions of about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, this summer's peak demand for electricity could reach 27,360 MW. If New England experiences extreme weather conditions, such as an extended heat wave of approximately 95 degrees Fahrenheit, peak electricity use could reach 29,160 MW. One megawatt serves 750 to 1,000 homes.

Whitley added, "If extreme weather or unexpected generation or transmission outages occur, we can immediately implement a series of measures, from calling on demand resources to asking for conservation, to keep electricity supply and demand in balance."

Recent developments to complete New England's wholesale electricity market structure have attracted interest in both supply-side and demand-side resources needed to ensure the ongoing reliability of the region's bulk power system. Applications to participate in the initial Forward Capacity Market (FCM) auction, scheduled for February 2008, total approximately 12,400 MW throughout the region. This includes more than 10,000 MW of supply-side generation resources and over 2,400 MW of demand-side resources. Not all the proposals received will be needed to meet the requirements of the 2008 auction.

Energy efficiency and conservation are good ideas all year and particularly in the summer. For example, the ISO suggests raising air conditioning settings a few degrees consistent with health and safety, installing energy-efficient light bulbs, and turning off unnecessary lighting, TVs, and office equipment such as computers. These and other simple tips are available at the Take Charge New Englandsm Web site.

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