ISO New England hits milestone: More grid power used at night than midday
- New England electricity consumers flipped the script one day last month, when mild weather and high solar output depressed daytime loads below those in the middle of the night. Officials say this is a first but had been expected, due the proliferation of distributed resources.
- On April 21, the New England ISO estimates distributed solar was producing about 2,309 MW at 1:30 p.m —an extremely high percentage of the grid's 2.4 GW of nameplate capacity.
- Looking ahead to the summer, the ISO anticipates sufficient capacity to meet peak demand on the hottest days. With normal temperatures, New England ISO expects demand to crest at 25,729 MW, though it could go higher should temperatures rise significantly.
The New England grid operator is prepared for the summer demand season, heading into its peak demand period with this most recent experience under its belt. Having consumers use more grid-sourced electricity at night than during the day is not uncommon on the West Coast, but it may mark a turning point for electricity supply in the Northeast.
"We were expecting this to happen at some point as more behind-the-meter solar gets installed in New England and the weather conditions were just right," New England ISO Forecast and Scheduling Supervisor Mike Knowland said in a statement.
Despite the milestone, however, New England consumers are still largely reliant on the grid. In a summer assessment, the operator said it is preparing for the hottest weather ahead.
There is more than 32,000 MW of capacity available, the ISO said, from a wide range of resources: natural gas, nuclear, oil, coal, hydro, biomass, and wind; demand-response resources that reduce their energy use; and power imports.
More than 1.6 GW of new capacity is expected to be available this summer, including two new natural-gas-fired power plants and a dual-fuel plant. The ISO also said five new grid-scale solar facilities are expected to add nameplate capacity of about 90 MW, and two new wind farms will add about 50 MW of nameplate capacity.
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