ISO New England study identifies transmission problems

Proposed infrastructure improvements and requested solutions to findings could total almost 900 million dollars

HOLYOKE, Mass., Nov. 8, 2002 — An annual transmission plan released today by ISO New England Inc., operator of the region’s bulk electric power system, finds that almost 900 million dollars in transmission upgrades may be needed to maintain power system reliability and improve wholesale electricity market efficiency.

The findings are contained in ISO New England’s 2002 Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (RTEP02), which is an annual engineering assessment of the region’s electric power system.


At a meeting yesterday, ISO New England’s Board of Directors approved the Plan that highlights more than 30 transmission projects planned or proposed by electric companies throughout New England. In addition, the Board requests solutions from the marketplace for the areas of concern identified in the Plan.

The study concludes that southwest Connecticut remains ISO New England’s number one area of concern, but transmission congestion also now exists in northwestern Vermont because of a lack of power plants in the area and inadequate transmission links. Proposed transmission projects in these two areas represent approximately $750 million in infrastructure investment. In addition, electricity now being produced in Maine, southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island is periodically “locked in” because transmission lines are not sufficient enough to carry it to high demand areas.

“We are responsible for ensuring a reliable bulk power system and efficient wholesale electricity markets,” said ISO New England’s President and CEO Gordon van Welie. “Therefore, ISO New England needs to identify areas with insufficient supply or inadequacies in the transmission system. The RTEP02 does this by identifying power system inadequacies and providing the appropriate market information. We seek market responses through this process, including the use of demand response programs, development of new generation in key locations, and upgrades and expansion of the transmission system.”

According to van Welie, more than 4,500 megawatts of new generation has been added to the region’s power system over the past three years, yet similar investment in the region’s transmission system has not occurred. “As a result, the region’s power system and wholesale power exchange are operating below optimum efficiency,” stated van Welie.

“For example, less expensive generation often sits idle in New England because of inadequate or congested transmission lines,” said van Welie. “The objective of the Plan is to encourage investment in demand response, generation and transmission infrastructure that will make our region’s power system more efficient and reliable, to the benefit of New England’s 6.5 million electric consumers. The economic value of New England’s transmission congestion costs are currently estimated to range from $50 to $300 million, while the economic consequences of system blackouts in highly stressed areas such as southwest Connecticut are incalculable.”

RTEP02 is a comprehensive electrical engineering assessment that includes a summary report on resource reliability, analysis of the transmission network and power system congestion, transmission planning studies, and recommendations for projects in identified areas of concern. The purpose of the Plan is to identify system problems and a “request for solutions” to those problems from the marketplace.

Key RTEP02 findings include:

* Southwest Connecticut remains the most critical area of concern for New England’s bulk power system. This area lacks the required transmission infrastructure to provide adequate reliability to its electric customers. RTEP02 found that in spite of recent minor improvements, the existing transmission system in that region can neither provide for significant generation expansion nor fully utilize the area’s generating resources during times of need.

* Northwest Vermont faces reliability problems due to insufficient links with the main transmission system and the lack of power plants in the area. The condition is expected to worsen with continued load growth.

* As the result of transmission upgrades and new power plants in the Boston area, transmission congestion has largely been addressed for the next several years.

* Bottlenecks on the system prevent electricity produced at power plants in Maine and in the Southeastern Massachusetts-Rhode Island areas from being transported to high demand areas. Upgrades to the system are needed in order to alleviate these bottlenecks.

* Demand response programs can help to reduce forecasted congestion and improve the overall reliability of the transmission system throughout New England.

New England’s RTEP is developed through a series of public meetings held throughout the year. “RTEP is a collaborative effort,” said van Welie. “ISO New England is appreciative of the dedicated group of stakeholders, including representatives from both private and public sectors, who meet regularly and have helped immeasurably in this process.”

In 2001, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave ISO New England the responsibility to develop a regional transmission planning process and oversee the development of an RTEP plan to serve the needs of the overall wholesale electricity market.

For more than five years, ISO New England Inc. has been 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 more than 28,000 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.

Author

  • The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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