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PRESS RELEASE | New York’s Electric Grid Prepared to Meet Winter Demand

November 23, 2020

Rensselaer, NY -- The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) today reported that electricity supplies in New York State are expected to be adequate this winter, with a total of 42,277 megawatts (MW) of power resources available to meet forecasted peak demand conditions.

“The state’s grid is well-equipped to handle forecasted winter demand,” said Wes Yeomans, Vice President of Operations for the NYISO. “The NYISO operates the grid to meet reliability rules that are among the strictest in the nation and are designed to ensure adequate supply.”

Winter Demand Forecast

The NYISO forecasts that peak demand for winter 2020-21 will reach 24,130 MW. The forecast represents an increase of 877 MW over last winter’s peak of 23,253 on December 19, but is 1.2% below the 10-year average winter peak of 24,414 MW.

The NYISO also evaluates the potential for more extreme weather scenarios. The NYISO’s extreme weather scenario analysis for this winter found that peak demand could increase to approximately 25,459 MW. That potential demand level is well below the NYISO’s total capacity resources (42,277 MW).

New York’s all-time winter peak was set in January 2014, during multi-day polar vortex conditions that pushed demand to 25,738 MW.

While the polar vortex of 2014 did not cause any reliability issues, the NYISO made changes to its market designs to provide stronger incentives for generators to secure fuel and enhance preparations for winter peak demand needs. At the same time, the NYISO took steps to improve situational awareness of natural gas system conditions and enhance procedures for monitoring generator fuel inventories. This combination of actions taken by the NYISO proved valuable in reliably meeting demand throughout the more recent severe cold snaps experienced in the winters of 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Winter 2020-21 Preparedness

While COVID-19 has led to a 1-2% drop in overall electricity usage throughout the New York Control Area, the virus has not materially impacted the NYISO’s winter peak load projections.

The NYISO has coordinated with many generating stations (remote vs. on-site this year due to COVID-19) to discuss past winter operations and preparations for upcoming winter, including:

  • Generation testing
  • Cold-weather preventative maintenance
  • Fuel capabilities, and
  • Fuel switching capabilities

Reliability Requirements and Resource Availability

New York’s electric system operates under reliability standards that include an installed reserve margin requirement to procure power supplies in excess of projected peak load in the event of the unanticipated loss of system resources. The electric system requires surplus power supplies to maintain reliable grid operation in the event of unanticipated electric supply disruptions, transmission outages or unexpected increases in power consumption.

Each day, the NYISO schedules 2,620 MW of operating reserves, which means additional generation resources are available above the amount needed to meet the projected demand for electricity on that day. The combination of the peak demand forecast and operating reserve results in a total capacity requirement of 26,750 MW to satisfy all applicable reliability rules.

The total capacity of power resources available to New York this winter is expected to be 42,277 MW. Available resources include 40,943 MW of generating capacity from power plants in New York State and imports of 496 MW. Projected demand response resources, which enlist consumers to reduce electricity use during peak conditions, equal 839 MW.

The NYISO is forecasting a capacity margin of between 9,638 MW in the baseline forecast and 8,309 MW under the 90th percentile forecast.

A copy of the NYISO’s full Winter 2020-21 Capacity Assessment is available here.

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