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Slack Power Demand in New England

April 5, 2017 By Finley Engineering in

The grid operator for New England envisions a decline in energy use and little or no increase in demand for power in harsh weather during the next decade.

Combined with modest economic growth, an emphasis on energy efficiency and small-scale solar systems should produce a 0.6 percent drop in energy use by 2026, ISO New England said.

Meanwhile, peak demand—the most electricity used in a single hour, usually in summer—is expected to rise by an average of 1 percent through 2026.

But factoring in energy efficiency and behind-the-meter solar systems, demand will be flat, the grid operator said.

“If extreme summer weather were to occur, preliminary numbers indicate peak demand could rise by an average of 0.1 percent annually,” it noted.

Those numbers all are lower than similar projections issued a year ago. ISO New England updates a 10-year forecast every year to help ensure the region has sufficient resources and transmission facilities.

The draft report for 2017-2026, released March 27, suggests a trend in declining energy use will continue. Accounting for weather, energy use in 2016 fell by 1.5 percent, compared with 2015.

The biggest change in the next 10 years might be in solar distributed generation, ISO New England said, even though the region is not typically noted for extended sunny days.

The forecast projects about 2,444 megawatts of behind-the-meter photovoltaic will be added through 2026, for a total of 4,362 MW in New England.

That does not include large-scale solar projects of more than 5 megawatts planned as part of a three-state clean energy plan, the grid operator added.