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New York State Electric Grid Well Positioned to Meet Demands of Winter

November 7, 2018

The New York State electric grid is well positioned to meet demands of a cold winter season, NYISO Vice President for Market Operations Emilie Nelson told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) during a recent hearing on winter preparedness.

At the Washington, D.C. event, Nelson joined representatives from five other ISOs and Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) to discuss the upcoming winter season.

NYISO’s assessment found more than 11,400 MW of  projected capacity margin available in an average winter. Even with the unlikely scenario of loss of all natural gas supplies to grid generators, the New York grid would still see a projected capacity margin of nearly 3,300 MW, according to NYISO analysis.

Fuel Mix – Generating Capacity: NY Statewide Generating Capacity by Fuel Source 2018Fuel Mix – Generating Capacity: NY Statewide Generating Capacity by Fuel Source 2018

The presentation was made at the FERC Winter 2018-19 Operations and Market Performance Technical Conference. Although winter does not present the peak power demands seen during heat waves in summertime, cold weather presents its own issues, including concerns about generator operations in very cold weather and gas supply available to meet the competing demands of home heating and power generation.

NYISO bases its information on surveys and discussions with generator and transmission owners. NYISO also performed on-site visits of generators to gauge cold-weather preventative maintenance, fuel switching capabilities (in regard to possible gas pipeline contingencies) and other winter operation issues.

New York has a communications protocol in place with state agencies to facilitate coordination with generators if needed to maintain reliability. Another protocol also ensures communication with gas pipelines during tight electric operating conditions. As an additional safeguard, a web-based, fuel survey portal allows generators to provide daily fuel information updates to NYISO grid operators during cold weather conditions.

This year’s report follows a trying 2017-18 early winter. The cold snap of the last week of 2017 and first week of 2018 included temperatures below freezing in New York City for two weeks, a week of temperatures below 0 in much of upstate and, in Syracuse, the coldest start to a January in more than 100 years. In addition, a coastal blizzard on Jan. 4 introduced the region to the term “bomb cyclone.”


Despite all those factors, the NYISO successfully met grid demand during that period, Nelson said.

NYISO is involved in a variety of resiliency efforts that reflect the ongoing transformation of the grid, Nelson added. Such efforts include a new Master Plan, which presents a strategic vision for market design enhancements over the next five years; a fuel security study to be launched in 2019, and other efforts to address the evolving nature of the bulk power system.

We are an independent, not-for-profit corporation responsible for operating the state’s bulk electricity grid, administering New York’s competitive wholesale electricity markets, conducting comprehensive long-term planning for the state’s electric power system, and advancing the technological infrastructure of the electric system serving the Empire State.