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PRESS RELEASE | NYISO Report Highlights Tightening Reliability Margins

December 3, 2021

Rensselaer, NY -- The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) today released its Comprehensive Reliability Plan (CRP), the culmination of the 2020-2021 Reliability Planning Process. The CRP concludes that the New York State bulk power system will meet all applicable reliability criteria from 2021 through 2030 for forecasted system demand in normal weather.

However, the report highlights that the margin to maintain reliability over the next ten years will narrow or could be eliminated based upon changes in forecasted system conditions. 

There are a number of risks to reliability identified in the CRP, such as delayed implementation of planned generation and transmission projects, additional generator deactivations beyond those expected or unplanned outages, and the impacts of extreme weather conditions.

“The latest study demonstrates that our reliability margins are thinning to concerning levels beginning in 2023,” said Zach Smith, Vice President of System & Resource Planning. “We have to move carefully with the grid in transition in order to maintain reliability and avoid the kind of problems we’ve seen in other parts of the U.S.”

The potential risks to reliability identified in the analyses may be resolved by new capacity resources coming into service, construction of additional transmission facilities, and/or increased energy efficiency, integration of distributed energy resources, and growth in demand response participation. The NYISO will continue to monitor these and other developments to determine whether changing system resources and conditions could impact the reliability of the New York bulk electric grid.

Risk Factors

Risk factors that could adversely affect system reliability include:

  1. Climate: The baseline analysis of normal weather and limited generation outages shows a positive but narrowing transmission security margin across the ten-year period. However, higher electric demands due to extreme weather conditions combined with the impact of additional forced generation outages would result in deficiencies to reliably serve consumers in New York City in many of the years.
  2. Economic: New York would experience smaller reliability margins if additional power plants were to become unavailable or if consumer demand is greater than forecasted. If the margins are totally depleted, the reliability of the grid would be at risk.
  3. Regulatory and policy drivers: Reliability margins will shrink in upcoming years due primarily to the planned unavailability of simple cycle combustion turbines that are impacted by the DEC’s Peaker Rule. Over the next ten-year period, the NYISO is forecasting a decrease in energy usage due to energy efficiency initiatives and increasing amounts of behind the meter solar generation. However, significant load-increasing impacts are forecasted due to expected growth in electric vehicle usage, large cloud-computing data centers, and other electrification (i.e., conversion of home heating, cooking, water heating and other end-uses from fossil-fuel based systems to electric systems). 

Reliability Risk Factors: Key Takeaways

  • Resource adequacy margins are tightening across the New York grid through time, from Buffalo to Long Island.
  • While transmission security within New York City is maintained through the ten-year period in accordance with current design criteria, the margin would be very tight starting in 2025 and would be deficient beginning in 2028 if forced outages are experienced at the historical rate
  • The reliability plan is heavily reliant on the timely completion of planned transmission projects. If the planned projects were delayed for any reason, the grid’s ability to reliably serve customer demand would be jeopardized.
  • Extreme events such as heatwaves or storms could result in deficiencies to serve demand statewide, especially in New York City considering the plans included in this Comprehensive Reliability Plan. This outlook could improve as more resources and transmission are added to New York City.

Road to 2040 – Reliability and Resiliency Challenges

The electric system is undergoing significant and rapid change. Part of the change is climate related, which will drive more frequent extreme weather events and higher temperatures, thus impacting the ability of the grid to reliably serve electric demand. Part of the change is the result of public policies in response to climate change. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, enacted in 2019, requires an economy-wide approach to addressing climate change and decarbonization. 

These policies include sweeping mandates that 70 percent of New York electricity consumed shall be produced from renewable resources by 2030 and a 100 percent emissions-free electricity supply by 2040 while promoting electrification in other sectors of the economy. Understanding the policy drivers and the impacts to the generation, transmission, and load components of the bulk electric system is critical to understanding the challenges to reliable electric service in the coming years.

Road to 2040: Key Takeaways

  • Transmission expansion is necessary throughout New York State in order to maximize access to renewable resources.
  • Climate change will impact meteorological conditions and events that introduce additional reliability risks.
  • The variability of output from wind and solar resources presents a fundamental challenge to reliably meeting electricity demand.
  • Battery storage resources help to fill in voids in renewable resources output, but extended periods rapidly deplete storage capabilities resulting in the need for longer-running dispatchable emission-free resources.
  • Significant amounts of dispatchable, emission-free resources are needed to balance renewable intermittency on the system. Resources with this combination of attributes are not commercially available at this time but will be critical to future grid reliability. By 2040, the amount of necessary dispatchable emission-free resources could be over 32,000 MW, approximately 6,000 MW more than the total fossil-fueled power plants on the New York grid in 2021.

Conclusions and Recommended Actions

This CRP concludes that the New York State bulk power system as planned will meet all currently applicable reliability criteria from 2021 through 2030 for forecasted system demand in normal weather. Nevertheless, the Comprehensive Reliability Plan contains the following recommendations based on risks to bulk power system reliability:

  • Monitor and Track Transmission Owner Plans
    • The NYISO will continue to monitor the completion of the identified projects and the progress of local transmission projects as they relate to the reliability needs initially identified in the Reliability Needs Assessment.
  • Monitor and Track Potential New Developments
    • The NYISO will administer its Short-Term Reliability Process to address generator deactivation notices and other system changes on a quarterly basis. The NYISO will continuously evaluate a forward-looking five-year period, and, if necessary, seek solutions. In addition, if a threat to reliability appears to be imminent, the NYISO may request immediate solutions outside of the normal planning cycle, in accordance with its tariffs and procedures.
  • Monitor Risk Factors
    • Through the quarterly Short-Term Reliability Process and biennial Reliability Planning Process, the NYISO will continue to address reliability issues identified for the ten-year planning horizon.
  • Consider Enhancements to Rules and Procedures to Maintain Reliability and Resiliency
    • This Comprehensive Reliability Plan demonstrates that system margins are expected to narrow to such a level that warrants review of current reliability rules, procedures, and practices.
  • Continue Coordination with the New York State Public Service Commission
    • The NYISO will continue to monitor and participate in other planning activities, including PSC proceedings considering CLCPA requirements and implementation of the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act.

View the Comprehensive Reliability Plan 

View the Key Takeaways Datasheet

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.