ISO-NE expects sufficient power supplies during first winter without Pilgrim nuclear plant

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ISO New England expects to have an ample supply of power this to meet demand which it estimates will peak at 20,476 MW under normal weather conditions or 21,173 MW at extremely cold temperatures.

Higher winter natural could also push up regional power prices, an analyst said Thursday.

“The power plants and demand-side resources with obligations to be available are sufficient to meet the forecasted peak demand under both normal and extreme weather conditions,” the grid operator said in a statement Wednesday.

However, concerns remain over fuel deliverability during extreme weather, particularly for -fired power plants.

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During extended periods of extremely cold weather natural gas constraints can limit the availability of fuel, while inclement weather combined with extreme cold can also impact oil and LNG availability and deliveries to the region, ISO-NE said.

The grid operator also noted that this will be the first winter season since the 728-MW Pilgrim Power Station in Massachusetts retired on May 31, 2019.

“This winter is the first without Pilgrim, which at the forecast Algonquin gas will prompt increased oil- and coal-fired generation,” Kieran Kemmerer, power market analyst with S&P Global Platts Analytics, said in an email Thursday.

“However, in the event cold winter weather does not materialize, we anticipate ample gas-fired generation to more readily meet demand,” Kemmerer said.

“Our forecast for Algonquin basis remains relatively high this upcoming winter, driving our forecast for on-peak power prices at Mass Hub to around $70/MWh in Jan-Feb 2020,” he said.

“Deliveries of LNG pose downside to gas price volatility and likewise power prices, but the timing of those deliveries remains uncertain,” Kemmerer said.

The system operator surveys generators regarding their fuel supplies, confirms scheduled natural gas deliveries to the region daily and forecasts the expected energy availability over a 21-day look-ahead period.

Beginning last winter, ISO-NE instituted a market mechanism to help power generators manage their fuel “so that limited supplies are used when they are more valuable for system reliability.”

There is also a stakeholder process underway to develop long-term, market-based mechanisms to address future energy security needs, ISO-NE said.

RELIABILITY

The system operator highlighted winter reliability concerns that include demand materializing higher than projected, a large generator tripping offline, electricity import disruptions and fuel delivery constraints.

Some of ISO-NE’s procedures for dealing with those conditions include importing emergency power from neighboring regions and asking businesses and residents to voluntarily conserve electricity.

Peak power grid demand has been relatively flat in recent years due to energy efficiency measures and behind-the-meter solar PV systems, the grid operator said.

While solar power helps reduce energy consumption during sunny winter days, power demand peaks in winter after the sun goes down. However, by reducing demand on sunny days, solar resources can help preserve other for use when demand is peaking, though solar generation can also be impacted by snow cover in the region, ISO-NE said.

The ISO considers normal winter temperatures to be about 7 degrees Fahrenheit and under those conditions peak demand is forecast to reach 20,476 MW. If extreme winter weather of 2 degrees Fahrenheit occurs, peak demand could reach 21,173 MW, ISO-NE said.

Total resources, including both those with forward capacity market obligations and capability without FCM obligations stand at 34,775 MW this winter. The ISO also noted gas-fired generating capacity at risk of not being able to get fuel when needed stands at more than 4,500 MW.

Winter 2018/2019 demand peaked at 20,773 MW on January 21, 2019, during the hour from 5 to 6 pm and the all-time winter demand peak in New England reached 22,818 MW on January 15, 2004.

— Jared Anderson, jared.anderson@spglobal.com

— Edited by Rocco Canonica, newsdesk@spglobal.com

Source: Platts

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