The ISO does not anticipate calling for controlled outages, and would resort to this drastic step only as a last resort to prevent a collapse of the power system that would take days or weeks to repair. In the event controlled power outages are needed, the ISO would coordinate this action with local utilities, which would then take the necessary actions to lower electricity demand in their areas.
Peak demand forecast, typical weather
Peak demand forecast, below average temperatures
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All-time highest winter peak demand (set on January 15, 2004)
As a part of its winter operations, ISO New England routinely monitors weather forecasts and energy supplies, including the availability of pipeline natural gas and expected production from wind and behind-the-meter solar resources. In addition to closely monitoring inventories at regional liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage facilities, the ISO also surveys oil, coal, and natural gas-fired generators to monitor stored fuel inventories and increase awareness of potential emissions or environmental limitations. This information is combined with a 21-day forecast of consumer demand to assess regional energy supplies; results of this 21-day forecast are published weekly to the ISO website.
The purpose of these sophisticated forecasts is to identify potential energy shortfalls while there is time to prevent them or lessen their impact. By identifying and publicizing possible energy supply shortfalls weeks in advance, the ISO wants to signal to the region’s wholesale energy market participants the need to contract for additional fuel deliveries. The early warning would also allow time for coordination among the ISO, the region’s utilities, and government officials, especially if conservation is needed.
ISO New England’s system operators have many tools at their disposal if emergency conditions develop. These procedures include importing emergency power from neighboring regions, calling on power system reserves, and asking businesses and residents to voluntarily conserve energy. Only in the most severe events, if conservation and other measures were insufficient to balance energy supply and consumer demand, would the ISO call for controlled power outages.
ISO New England modeling anticipates that generators using stored fuels, such as oil and LNG, would operate around the clock during prolonged periods of extremely cold weather. Conservation requests during these periods would be made to extend these fuel supplies until either the weather warms or additional deliveries make it to the region. Rather than moving consumer demand into different parts of the day, the public may be asked to limit their energy use during all hours, perhaps for several days.