Ongoing industry transformation and the ambitious clean-energy policies of the New England states are redefining the regional power system and competitive wholesale electricity marketplace. We’re helping the region to make the most of new technologies and stay a step ahead of related reliability challenges.
New England’s highly competitive wholesale electricity marketplace incentivizes the development and adoption of new technologies. These technologies succeed by providing the energy services the region needs in a more efficient way. Advances in many power production technologies—including natural gas, solar, and wind—have been major catalysts to change. Storage technologies are also advancing and will assist in managing the power system as the region’s resource mix evolves.
Federal and state efforts to reduce air emissions are the primary impetus behind expansion of renewable energy and EE programs, and are pushing the region toward a hybrid grid. These efforts have included emission limits, mandated use of green power, and tax credits and incentives for EE measures and renewable resources. The New England states are also now pursuing long-term contracts for clean-energy and energy-storage projects.
Fuel cost is the biggest portion of a power plant’s operating cost, particularly for New England’s natural-gas-, oil-, and coal-fired generators. However, the region has no indigenous source of fossil fuels. As natural gas production from the Marcellus shale began to boom around 2010, the low cost of this nearby fuel source enabled natural-gas-fired generators to out-compete other generation resources. Other factors affecting regional power resources’ profitability and long-term viability include falling technology costs, state-sponsored renewable policies, aging equipment, and investments to ensure environmental compliance.
Electricity users are helping to shape the mix of regional power resources through their adoption of EE measures and DG resources. See the ISO’s 10-year forecasts for energy-efficiency savings and solar photovoltaic capacity, currently the largest form of DG.
With each wave, the ISO reviews—and if necessary adapts—grid operations, market rules, and system planning to accommodate new resource types and technologies entering the marketplace while preserving reliability. Learn more about the region’s major challenges and what the ISO and stakeholders are doing to ensure a reliable supply of electricity through this transition.