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NYISO Partners with University at Albany NYS Mesonet - Program Aids Solar Power Forecasting

July 31, 2019

We announced a new program that will improve our ability to integrate photovoltaic power into the New York electric grid, thanks to a new partnership with the University at Albany and the advanced weather detection system, New York State Mesonet.

Currently, our solar power forecasts are based on satellite image of cloud cover. Mesonet's ground-level solar data will improve our ability to predict how much power will be coming from the sun on an hourly basis.

First launched in 2015, the Mesonet program now has 126 weather stations in every county of the state. Each station measures irradiance (watts per square meter of sunlight) and other atmospheric properties. This data helps our grid control room operators factor in the amount of power coming from photovoltaic cells. As a weather-dependent renewable resource, energy from solar power is harder to predict than more traditional sources of grid power such as gas, hydro or nuclear.

ALL PHOTO/IMAGE CREDITS: Provided by NYS Mesonet at UAlbany


"As photovoltaic installations grow in popularity around the state, we need to forecast the impact of this intermittent resource on the electric grid," said Emilie Nelson, NYISO's Executive Vice President.

We estimate that the total capacity of installed behind-the-meter solar power is currently about 1,450 megawatts (MW). There is also one grid-scale solar farm, a 32 MW project on Long Island. Other grid-scale solar projects are in the works around the state.

The $23.6 million Mesonet initiative, supported by New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, is designed to enhance planning for extreme weather events, and will make New York home to the most innovative statewide network of weather stations and profilers in the country.

Inspired by a sudden winter storm in Buffalo that dropped nearly three feet of snow, Mesonet makes use of more than 125 weather stations located throughout the state. The stations provide extensive, real-time, 3-D data observations (rainfall, temperature, wind speed, wind direction, surface pressure and humidity) to emergency personnel and first responders. It also offers observations critical for flood forecasting (soil moisture, soil temperature and snowpack).

GRAPHIC: Standard stations measure air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, precipitation, solar radiation, atmospheric pressure, snow depth, and soil moisture/temperature at three depths. Still camera photos are also collected. Data is transmitted in real-time to UAlbany, quality controlled, then disseminated to the public via

Operation of the electric grid requires that the amount of power generated by suppliers is always equal to power demand, a delicate balancing act that requires the use of multiple computer models and instruments that measure power transmission in real-time. The new data stream will help our operators in the grid control room better prepare for changes in load that are offset by solar power equipment located at homes and businesses.

To learn more, visit the NYS Mesonet website.

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.