New England is expected to have sufficient resources to meet peak consumer demand for electricity this winter. More than 35,000 megawatts (MW) of capacity is expected to be available under both typical and extreme weather conditions. ISO New England employs a variety of resources to meet demand: generators that produce electricity, using fuels such as natural gas, nuclear, oil, coal, hydro, biomass, and wind; demand-response resources that reduce their energy use; and power imported into New England from New York and Canada.
ISO New England routinely monitors weather forecasts and fuel supplies as a part of its winter planning, and has established procedures and communications protocols to alert stakeholders. Consecutive days of extremely cold weather can reduce fuel availability for generating power due to regional natural gas pipeline capacity constraints. Extreme winter weather and other unanticipated events can also impact logistics for delivering liquefied natural gas and fuel oil – both of which are important fuels for winter power production.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is not expected to affect power system reliability this winter, it will continue to bring uncertainty to electricity use. The ISO continuously evaluates usage trends, and adjusts electric demand forecast to account for changing dynamics. ISO New England will continue publishing weekly updates throughout the winter, looking at how the pandemic is affecting electricity use.
ISO New England prepares short-term forecasts for the summer and winter seasons, taking into account estimated contributions from all resources, including those with and without an obligation through the capacity market to supply electricity; unplanned resource outages; imports from neighboring regions; and resource additions and retirements. These estimates help inform ISO New England’s planning on how to operate the grid during the upcoming peak season.
ISO New England has well-established operating procedures to maintain a reliable supply of electricity in the event of an unexpected power plant or transmission line outage, an extended heat wave that results in increased consumer demand, fuel supply issues or emissions limitations that affect the amount of electric generation available, or a combination of these factors. These procedures include importing emergency power from neighboring regions, calling on power system reserves, and asking businesses and residents to voluntarily conserve energy.
Visit Operating the Power System for more information on one of the ISO’s three critical roles in New England.