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Northeast Council's Summer Reliability Assessment Forecasts Adequate Electricity Supply

May 13, 2020
Lower electricity demand from pandemic further reduces likelihood of reliability issues.

Northeast Power Coordinating Council, Inc.'s (NPCC) annual reliability assessment forecasts the NPCC region will have an adequate supply of electricity this summer. The overall NPCC coincident electricity summer peak demand is not expected to be higher than 104,000 MW, approximately the same as last summer.

After accounting for new resources, retirements, and transmission constraints, the spare operable capacity (capacity over and above reserve requirements) for the NPCC during the summer period is estimated to be sizable — ranging from 13,000 MW to nearly 21,000 MW.

"The NPCC does not anticipate reliability issues for the upcoming summer. Forecasts indicate adequate transmission capability and sufficient capacity margins to meet peak demand and required operating reserves," said Edward Schwerdt, president and CEO of the NPCC.

For New York State, New England, and Ontario, an adequate supply of electricity is forecast for this summer. The winter peaking Québec and Canadian Maritime Provinces are expected to meet forecasted electricity demand by a wide margin.

As a result of the economic shutdown and other restrictions to contain COVID-19, there have been declines in system demand throughout the NPCC region. "A continuation of this decrease would likely lower summer peak demand and further increase the forecasted spare operable capacity. This in turn could help counteract potential reliability impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," added Schwerdt.

The scenarios considered in the assessment bracket plausible COVID-19 impacts on reliable grid operations, such as work force disruptions, equipment and fuel supply interruptions, and deferred maintenance.

However, even under pandemic conditions, widespread and prolonged heat waves with high humidity and temperatures will remain the primary drivers of system demand this summer. Established operating procedures are still available to maintain reliability and keep electricity supplies and demand in balance if needed.

The summer reliability assessment considered an array of severe system conditions including the impacts of:

  1. Extended unit maintenance
  2. Reductions in demand response programs
  3. Reductions in the ability to import power from neighboring regions
  4. Transmission constraints
  5. Extreme weather characterized by widespread and prolonged heat waves with high humidity and near-record temperatures

The first four of these system conditions act to mitigate potential reliability concerns resulting from the COVID-19 economic shutdown and recovery period.

The NPCC has implemented a number of operating procedures to address pandemic impacts on the bulk power system and will continue to assess the evolving situation to address reliability impacts for this summer.

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