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Back Podcast Ep. 22: Zach Smith on Unprecedented Investment Needed to Meet Energy Goals


Podcast Ep. 22: Zach Smith on Unprecedented Investment Needed to Meet Energy Goals

October 5, 2022

The NYISO recently released a new report that identifies the unprecedented level of electrical system investment necessary to achieve New York State’s climate policy requirements.

Developed in collaboration with stakeholders and state agencies, the 2021-2040 System and Resource Outlook (the Outlook) uses various scenarios to identify potential pathways for transmission and supply investments that will support a reliable transition of the electric grid. 



In our latest Power Trends Podcast, NYISO Vice President of System & Resource Planning, Zach Smith, explains the potential impacts of the changing resource mix on the needs of the electric grid to maintain reliability. State policies, like the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019 (CLCPA), are having profound impacts on the electric system and decisions for system investments to keep the lights on.

System planning has always been a vital part of what we do, along with managing New York’s electric grid reliability and wholesale competitive markets. The NYISO is required to study the electric system for potential risks to meeting stringent reliability rules and make recommendations on how to maintain grid reliability into the future.   

“I’m really proud of the work our team has done to consider different scenarios and identify the actions we all need to be taking now,” Smith said. “The intent is to give policymakers and stakeholders a view of the future that considers the physical constraints of the system so we can make informed investment decisions that preserve grid reliability.”

2040 Policy Case Scenario 1By simulating different future system configurations and forecasting the transmission constraints for each, we were able to identify the following key findings:

  • State climate mandates are driving the need for unprecedented levels of new generation capacity to achieve decarbonization and maintain system reliability.
  • Electrification of buildings and transportation driven by state policies is one of the largest factors driving rapid increases in peak and annual energy demand. 
  • Significant increases in new resource and transmission development will be required to achieve CLCPA targets. 
  • Dispatchable Emission-Free Resources (DEFRs) must be developed and deployed at scale well before 2040 to achieve an emission-free grid. 

Ultimately, preparing for a zero-emissions electric grid by 2040, as directed by state policy, will require a variety of solutions. Examples include new transmission, significant build-out of renewable and storage resources, and the use of Dispatchable Emissions-Free Resources (DEFRs). DEFRs will be needed to replace current fossil-fueled generators to respond quickly to changing system conditions and be able to supply the grid for extended periods. 

DEFR technologies are not yet commercially viable but must be developed and added to the system at scale to reliably serve demand when intermittent generation from wind and solar is unavailable and supply from storage resources is depleted. The lead time necessary for research, development, permitting, and construction of DEFR supply will require action well in advance of 2040 if state policy mandates under the CLCPA are to be achieved.

“We’re talking about policies and goals that are in 2040, and may feel like a long way off,” Smith said. “But we need to think about all of these factors today.”

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The Outlook Datasheet

Download the Outlook datasheet or the 2021-2040 System & Resource Outlook report.

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.