Region’s power generators using more oil, coal
Fuel mix should return to normal as temps rise
FRIGID CONDITIONS led the region’s power generators to use more oil and coal than usual over the last few days, but as temperatures edged up Tuesday the fuel mix is expected to return to normal.
Typically, coal and oil each account for less than 1 percent of the region’s power generation fuel mix and natural gas is at 41 percent. But when temperatures plummet and the use of natural gas for heating rises, pipeline constraints often lead to shortages of natural gas, prompting some generators to switch to fuels that can be stored on site. Higher use of coal and oil is problematic for the region because those fuels generate more greenhouse gas emissions than natural gas.
Over the last few days, the fuel mix of the region’s power generators has shifted a bit, with oil use rising occasionally into the 11 percent range and coal use hovering in the 5 to 6 percent range, according to real-time statistics gathered by ISO-New England, the region’s power grid operator.On Monday at 9:47 a.m., for example, the fuel mix was 41 percent natural gas, 25 percent nuclear, 11 percent renewables, 10 percent oil, 7 percent hydro, and 6 percent coal. Early Tuesday morning, oil use had risen to 11 percent and coal use had declined to 5 percent. By Tuesday evening, oil use had fallen to less than 1 percent, coal use was at 6 percent, and natural gas was up to 49 percent.
A forecast released by ISO-New England on Tuesday for the next 21 days projects slightly higher temperatures, with “the coldest period so far this winter” ending on Tuesday. “The weather forecast shows an upcoming colder-than-normal period from Jan. 31 to Feb. 1. Natural gas supplies have been supported by significant LNG [liquefied natural gas] injections over the past week. This has resulted in less oil-switching than was originally forecast, and oil inventories were materially unchanged.”