Electricity demand predicted to be flat over the next decade
The demand for electricity in Connecticut and other New England states is projected to remain essentially flat over the next 10 years, according to a new report released late last week by the region’s electric grid operator.
The 197-page Regional System Plan from ISO-New England is used as the foundation for long-term power-system planning in the region. The report was released publicly after being approved by the board of directors for the Holyoke, Massachusetts-based grid operator on Thursday.
Increased use of photovoltaic solar panels by homes and businesses, as well as by state and municipal government entities, has helped keep the projected annual increase in demand for power at just over a half a percentage point, according the report. Marcia Blomberg, a spokeswoman for ISO-NE, said energy efficiency programs also are a factor.
“The increasing presence of energy efficiency and photovoltaic (solar energy systems) are slowing down the rate of peak demand growth,” Blomberg said. Without increased use of photovoltaic solar energy systems and efficiency programs, the annual energy consumption for the region would grow by 1 percent each year for the next 10 years while peak demand — periods of extreme heat or cold — would see demand for electricity increase by 1.3 percent annually.
Even with essential flat growth in the demand for the next 10 years, the region is still going through a dramatic transformation. Gordon van Welie, president and chief executive of ISO-NE, said the grid operator, which also runs the wholesale electric market into which power generators bid, has to strike a delicate balance.
“As oil, coal, and nuclear power plants retire, more generators are fueled by natural gas, and wind and solar resources are added to the power system,” van Welie said in a statement. “This metamorphosis is providing new opportunities but also creates challenges, including energy supply, reliability and price issues.”
The report says that over an eight-year period that started in 2010 and will come to an end during summer 2018, power plant retirements will remove 4,050 megawatts of generating capacity from the regional electric grid.