New England’s electric power system handles two straight days of record-breaking demand

HOLYOKE, Mass., July 26, 2001 – ISO New England Inc. announced that the six-state region’s electric power system handled two consecutive days of record-breaking electricity demand sparked by this week’s high heat and humidity.

Officials at the agency, which oversees New England’s bulk power grid, said that Wednesday’s power demand set an all-time record of 24,153 megawatts (MW). This eclipsed the previous record of 23,709 MW, set on Tuesday.

“This performance illustrates that our electric power system can handle the worst that summer can throw at us: back-to-back demand records – a one-two punch,” said Stephen G. Whitley, ISO New England’s Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “New power plants, programs to reduce demand, improved system reliability and conservation by residents and businesses allowed us to avoid any interruptions of service.”

Until this week’s heat wave, the record for demand had been 22,544 MW, set on July 6, 1999. Summer demand on New England’s bulk power grid usually ranges from 19,000 to 21,000 MW, but temperatures in the mid-90s and high humidity this week caused millions to turn on their fans and air conditioners. One megawatt can power about 1,000 homes.

Although there was sufficient power to meet actual demand, transmission constraints on the power system prohibited ISO New England from dispatching the generation to areas of high demand, thus dropping reserves below desirable levels.

In response, ISO New England declared the season’s first Power Watch at 11:40 a.m. Tuesday, and encouraged residents and businesses to reduce their electricity use. “The voluntary conservation steps taken by people throughout New England ensured that we had sufficient reserves to compensate for any unexpected outages,” said Whitley. “During the high demand summer months, it’s always a good idea to keep energy conservation in mind, even when there isn’t a Power Watch.”

Tuesday’s Power Watch was cancelled at 6:10 p.m. that evening as temperatures began to cool and demand began to drop. As temperatures rose again on Wednesday, a second Power Watch was declared at 11:30 a.m. and cancelled at 8 p.m. that evening.

Officials said that demand for today, July 26, is projected to be approximately 20,525 MW, as temperatures were expected to begin dropping to more seasonable levels.

ISO New England Inc. is the not-for-profit corporation responsible for the day-to-day reliable operation of New England’s bulk generation and transmission systems with an installed capacity of almost 26,000 megawatts.

In addition to operating the bulk power grid, ISO New England is the administrator of the region’s wholesale electricity marketplace and the Open Access Transmission Tariff on behalf of the New England Power Pool. ISO New England is based in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

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