ISO-NE Electricity Reliability Forecast

The Independent System Operator – ISO – manages the New England power grid. One if its greatest concerns is maintaining the reliability of the power grid.

We all tend to think that there’s a 24/7 assurance of there being electricity behind the wall outlet throughout the year. That was a good bet when our power came from coal, oil, hydro and nuclear. Nuclear is the most reliable, with a vast amount of fuel powering the reactor for 18 months at a stretch, with over 90% reliability. Most of the remaining 10% comes from refueling outages planned long in advance.

In July ISO announced that the reserve margin on the New England system may need to increase from about 15% to 300% by 2040 in some scenarios, as more renewables are added and dispatchable generation is retired to meet state clean energy goals, according to a report from the grid operator.

That’s because of the increased amount of  non-dispatchable power expected from subsidized wind and solar. Their fuel – wind and sun – can’t be relied upon, and battery storage is extremely expensive and uncertain.

ISO’s Future Grid Reliability Study modeled a variety of decarbonization scenarios in 2040 and concluded they “may require a significant amount of gas or stored fuels to support variable resources.” That means gas backup or some kind of storage not presently economical.

Customers should pray for a string of warm winters and more nuclear power, starting now.


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Enter Comment Here:

  • Sheldon Katz
    commented 2022-11-28 12:09:09 -0500
    Re. David Breset, Profits or lack thereof convey important information about the value of the product and whether more or less should be produced. Large profits may result from artificial supply constraints imposed by government. If fossil fuel producers are making large profits while so-called “renewables” exist only with subsidies, then by definition fossil fuels are the future. If you want to reduce profits, advocate for the government to reduce the current supply constraints. If fossil fuel producers are being subsidized, then by all means let’s end that. If instead, as I believe you are referring to, they are using provisions of the tax code available to all other taxpayers, they are not being “subsidized.” As I say, if you like “renewables,” a better name for which would be “unreliables,” please feel free to use them — as long as you pay their full costs, which is a multiple of the cost of fossil fuels. While you are doing so, don’t feel so virtuous since the environmental impact of unreliables are no less than that of fossil fuels. In the meantime, be thankful for fossil fuels, without which you would likely not have the leisure time to publish your opinions, ill-informed as they are.
  • David Bresett
    commented 2022-11-24 07:39:35 -0500
    Oil companies are making huge profits and subsidies. Every household in America should be getting subsidies, for that very reason.
    Renweables are the future.
  • Sheldon Katz
    commented 2022-11-22 11:20:20 -0500
    Responding to David Bresett, nothing prevents him from personally giving renewables a chance. The problem is that he wants to impose his bet on renewables on those of us who do not share his optimism. I don’t think he read John’s piece about the risk of brownouts or rolling blackouts and the cost of maintaining excess capacity or reserves. Further, wind and solar are not in their infancy, yet they continue to exist only because of massive subsidies. There is no evidence that these intermittent technologies will ever be feasible without nuclear and fossil reserves. There is evidence, however, of their severe environmental costs.
  • David Bresett
    commented 2022-11-19 09:58:03 -0500
    Seems praying as a conclusion indicates your consensus in unsure. The trend is renewable energy. That relying on old methods is understandable, because we know they work. But, renewable energy is still in it’s infancy and breakthroughs are happening everyday. Gotta give a chance John.
  • David Flemming
    published this page in EAI Blog 2022-11-08 11:51:36 -0500