Power grid copes with cold by burning oil, coal
Plants brought online to deal with unexpected outages
THE NEW ENGLAND power grid on Tuesday coped with unusually cold temperatures and outages at several power plants and transmission lines by bringing additional power plants online and relying on oil and coal to generate roughly a fifth of the region’s electricity.
ISO-New England, the operator of the region’s power grid, said it issued an alert during the afternoon after the cold weather caused the unexpected outages. Additional plants were brought online ahead of the evening peak demand period between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.
“We expect to have the resources needed to meet consumer demand and required power system reserves throughout the evening,” said Matt Kakley, a spokesman for ISO-New England. “Barring further unexpected outages, we do not expect to implement emergency actions this evening, and we are not requesting the public conserve electricity at this time.”
Natural gas is the dominant fuel used to produce electricity in New England, but because of limited pipeline capacity coming into the region its price and availability often vary dramatically when temperatures plunge and the demand for gas for home heating rises.
The renewables contribution to the region’s power needs was split between wind (39 percent), trash burning (29 percent), wood burning (28 percent), landfill gas (3 percent), and solar (1 percent).