Electric Grid Operators Call For Conservation, Expect Near Record Demand

Jul 16, 2013

Power grid operators expect electricity demand to spike to near-record highs during this week’s heat. New England’s Independent System Operator, or ISO is asking residents to reduce their consumption.

With demand expected to be only a few hundred megawatts shy of New England’s all time record on Thursday, the region’s ISO expects to bump up against max capacity. That means wholesale prices will spike as the grid calls on many coal and oil plants that increasingly spend most of the year off-line.

When supply becomes tighter, grid operators can restrict exports and increase imports of electricity, or call upon factories and other big consumers who are paid to shut down in such circumstances.

The region’s record for electricity consumption was set in August of 2006, at slightly more than 28 gigawatts.  Last summer, the regions highest peak was about 25.9 gigawatts.