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PRESS RELEASE | NYISO Forecasts Adequate Capacity for Upcoming Winter Season

November 21, 2019

Rensselaer, NY – With another winter season rapidly approaching, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) today announced that New York’s electric system has enough capacity to meet forecasted demand for electricity and maintain necessary operating reserves during cold weather conditions through the 2019-20 winter season.

“Cold weather conditions over the past few winters have allowed the NYISO, the state and generators to improve coordination in order to maintain reliability,” said Wes Yeomans, Vice President of Operations for the New York Independent System Operator. “This year’s peak demand forecast is slightly lower than last winter and we anticipate having adequate supply throughout the 2019-20 winter.”

The NYISO anticipates a peak demand of 24,123 megawatts (MW) for this winter season. The winter peak forecast is based on average winter weather conditions, with composite statewide temperatures of 15⁰ F. More extreme temperatures, for example approximately 5⁰ F statewide, would result in a higher forecasted peak demand of 25,724 MW. (Peak demand is a measurement of the highest average total electric demand by consumers for a one-hour period. For reference, one megawatt of electricity can serve approximately 800 to 1,000 homes).

Last winter, peak demand reached 24,728 MW on January 21, the third day of a four-day cold weather event. New York’s all-time winter peak was set in 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 enhanced 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.

This winter season, resource capacity, including generation, imports and demand response, is expected to total 43,346 MW. Installed generation capacity amounts to 41,815 MW. Imports of 679 MW are expected to be available for the winter period. Projected demand response resources, which enlist consumers to reduce electricity use during peak conditions, equal 853 MW. The NYISO is forecasting a capacity margin of between 9,299 – 10,900 MW depending on specific conditions.

The electric system requires surplus power supplies to maintain reliable grid operations in the event of unanticipated electric supply disruptions, transmission outages or unexpected increases in power consumption. Each day, New York’s grid operators maintain 2,620 MW of operating reserves, which means additional generation resources are scheduled above the amount needed to meet the projected demand for electricity on that day.

The NYISO’s winter outlook analysis was developed after a thorough review of available power resource supply, expected transmission resources, and an analysis of anticipated demand for electricity. The NYISO bases its information on surveys and discussions with generator and transmission owners. The 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.

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.