Uptown Funk: Where will NYC get its peak demand capacity?
Con Ed says aging natural gas plants are fine; storage advocates say a crisis is imminent.
Does New York City have sufficient resources to meet peak energy demand and, if not, how should any shortcoming be addressed? Those are two key questions facing energy planners for the Big Apple, with competing views on both.
While about 30% of New York City’s peak demand is met by natural gas turbines older than most such plants in service, Consolidated Edison (ConEd), the city’s distribution utility, sees no urgent need for new generation. A study by the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) concluded power plants now in service “will meet reliability criteria over the 2017-2026 period.”
ConEd Resource Planning Manager Aydemir Nehrozoglu said some NYC natural gas peakers may be threatened by new air pollution control requirements, but “aging is not the same as having to be replaced.” Advocacy groups “may want them closed, but more political will, planning and execution will be needed to get to that new energy future,” he told Utility Dive.
Nehrozoglu said the peaker units “are easy to maintain” and are used “for only a couple of hours and then shut down.” ConEd does not own them and has little visibility into how viable the plants are, he acknowledged. “We would like to be able to do a generator-at-risk analysis because it matters so much to system reliability but generators don’t share that information.”
Echoing Nehrozoglu, NYISO VP Richard Dewey said the system operator’s April 2017 Comprehensive Reliability Plan “found no new resources are needed.” New York’s existing bulk power system can meet “peak electrical demand,” Dewey emailed Utility Dive. And it will continue to “meet reliability criteria over the 2017-2026 period.”
Dewey agreed “the need to maintain, upgrade or replace aging generation infrastructure requires constant attention.” But, he said, the NYISO markets “send appropriate, locational-based price signals” that “reflect scarcity and shortage conditions” to maintain reliability.
Susanne DesRoches, a deputy director in the NYC Mayor’s Office, cited the NYISO analyses in denying any near-term peak demand reliability concerns. The city’s energy efficiency programs “have helped to reduce both peak demand and general electricity usage,” she said.
She acknowledged that 70% of the in-city generating fleet, which delivers half of NYC’s energy and 80% of its peak demand, is 45 years old or more. The generation fleet’s age “is of concern” to the Mayor’s office but it is working with the NYISO and the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) on “replacement and/or repowering.”
DesRoches said her office is planning to expand its energy efficiency efforts, encourage policies that support DER, work toward new transmission and support development of New York’s offshore wind. It is also working on new “wholesale electricity market rules” that will “remove barriers or impediments for repowering with cleaner generation.”