New England is expected to have enough electric generation and demand response resources available to serve forecasted peak demand this summer, according to ISO New England (ISO-NE), the operator of the region's bulk power system and wholesale electricity markets.
According to ISO-NE, this summer, under normal weather conditions of about 90 degrees, electricity demand is forecasted to peak at 26,710 MW. Extreme summer weather, such as an extended heat wave of about 94 degrees F, could push demand up to 29,060 MW. These forecasts take into account the demand-reducing effect of 1,685 MW of energy-efficiency measures acquired through the forward capacity market.
Last year's retirement of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, with a capacity of 615 MW, means the region will have less electric generating capacity than last summer, and also a narrower reserve margin when demand is peaking. If a prolonged heat wave occurs and the extreme peak demand forecast materializes, then the region will need to rely more heavily on power imports from neighboring areas, and may also need to use operating procedures to maintain system reliability."
According to ISO-NE, two new resources have come online since last summer – a wind facility and wood-burning facility – totaling 120 MW of nameplate capacity. However, when factoring in the retirement of Vermont Yankee – which operated at near 100% output last summer – the region stands at a net loss of about 570 MW of generation compared to last summer.
New England has different types of capacity resources it can use during the summer when demand for power reaches its highest point: generators that produce electricity, such as nuclear, oil, coal, natural gas, hydro, biomass and wind; demand-response resources that can be activated to reduce their energy use; and power imported into New England from New York and Canada.
Through the forward capacity market, approximately 29,575 MW of generating resources have an obligation to be available this summer. Some resources' capability to produce power is greater than their capacity supply obligation, and these resources typically offer the additional megawatts into the energy market when demand for power is peaking and spot energy prices rise. If all generating resources in New England were operating at full output, the total amount of power produced would be approximately 30,325 MW.
About 640 MW of demand resources and about 1,240 MW of net electricity imports also have supply obligations to be available this summer.
Last summer, demand for power peaked on July 2, 2014, at 24,443 MW. The all-time record for peak demand was set on Aug. 2, 2006, when demand reached 28,130 MW after a prolonged heat wave.