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ISO-NE: New England Energy Constrained

September 23, 2019

According to ISO-New England’s 10-year assessment of the region, New England’s electric grid is energy constrained. In its draft 2019 Regional Assessment Plan, ISO, which operates New England’s power grid, detailed the constraints facing the region: while the region is becoming cleaner and more efficient—and it has seen coal, nuclear, and oil generation retire—it still to rely too much on natural gas generation. Natural gas pipelines are currently at capacity.

ISO is addressing these constraints, however. For example, this past March, it filed plans with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to provide more compensation to resources that can store the following fuels onsite during the winters of 2023-2024 and 2024-2025: biomass, coal, demand response, natural gas, nuclear, and some hydro. ISO also expects the power grid to remain reliable and affordable due to transmission upgrades over the next 10 years that are worth approximately $1.3 billion. The process of upgrading transmission is already underway in the Boston area. According to the Assessment Plan, ISO will issue a request for proposals for transmission projects by early 2020.

Moreover, ISO says the system is becoming cleaner and more efficient due to the increased development of different sources of renewable energy. And the system is only expected to become cleaner and more efficient in the coming years due to the implementation of other clean energy strategies, like importing more hydroelectricity from Canada, modernizing the grid, and adding energy storage. For example, ISO predicts the net energy load to decline from 125,823 GWh in 2019 to 121,336 GWh in 2028 due to increased energy efficiency and distributed solar. Summer peak demand savings from energy efficiency are anticipated to increase from 2,913 MW in 2019 to 5,372 MW in 2028. So, despite the warning that the region is energy constrained, the Assessment Plan is optimistic that the region has enough resources through 2028.