Power grid should be ready in New Eng­land

But ISO says se­vere cold may still cause is­sues

Hartford Courant (Sunday) - - Connecticut - By Michael Casey As­so­ci­ated Press

CONCORD, N.H. — There should be plenty of power this win­ter across New Eng­land, though the com­pany that man­ages the elec­tric grid says an ex­treme cold snap could pose some chal­lenges.

In its win­ter fore­cast, ISO New Eng­land said this week that con­sumer de­mand across the re­gion is ex­pected to peak at 20,357 megawatts un­der nor­mal weather con­di­tions or 21,057 MW at ex­treme tem­per­a­tures.

But point­ing to last win­ter’s two-week cold snap, the com­pany didn’t rule out some bumps along the way. Should there be a sce­nario in which the re­gion loses a large gen­er­a­tor, elec­tric­ity im­ports are af­fected or fuel de­liv­er­ies are dis­rupted, the com­pany could be forced to put in place emer­gency pro­ce­dures. It would con­sider im­port­ing power from neigh­bor­ing re­gions and ask­ing con­sumers and busi­ness to vol­un­tar­ily con­serve en­ergy.

The com­pany also said that the run of bru­tally cold weather around the Christ­mas holi­days in 2017 has prompted them to in­sti­tute changes that en­sure they are bet­ter pre­pared. The com­pany has in­tro­duced a new sys­tem that fore­casts en­ergy sup­plies for the next 21 days and one that en­sures lim­ited fuel sup­plies are used when “they are most valu­able for sys­tem re­li­a­bil­ity and cost-ef­fec­tive­ness.” It also rolled out a pro­gram this year that re­wards power providers who im­prove their re­li­a­bil­ity dur­ing times of en­ergy scarcity.

“Last win­ter demon­strated just how much the weather can im­pact power sys­tem op­er­a­tions, not just in terms of con­sumer de­mand for elec­tric­ity, but in the abil­ity of gen­er­a­tors to ac­cess fuel,” Peter Bran­dien, ISO New Eng­land’s vice pres­i­dent for sys­tem op­er­a­tions, said in a state­ment. “The ISO has learned lessons from this ex­pe­ri­ence, and made near-term im­prove­ments to help ad­dress th­ese en­ergy se­cu­rity con­cerns.”

Dur­ing the cold snap, much of the nat­u­ral gas that pow­ers gen­er­at­ing plants was di­verted to heat­ing homes, and elec­tric­ity providers had to turn to old, coal and oil-fired power plants, which were burn­ing fuel at rates that led of­fi­cials to fear the fuel tanks could run dry. Dur­ing a reg­u­lar year, New Eng­land providers use about 1 mil­lion bar­rels of oil to make elec­tric­ity. Dur­ing the two-week cold snap they burned 2 mil­lion bar­rels.

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice said the cold snap be­gan Dec. 26 and lasted through Jan. 7 with tem­per­a­tures in places like Ver­mont about 20 de­grees lower than nor­mal.

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