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New York utilities prepared to meet winter power demand: regulator

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New York utilities prepared to meet winter power demand: regulator


Peak power demand forecast at 24.1 GW

Capacity margin of 9.6 GW expected

New York — New York's electric utilities are prepared to meet peak demand this winter, which is forecast to reach 24.1 GW, about 6% lower than the all-time winter peak of 25.7 GW reached during the 2013-14 winter, state utility regulators said Oct. 15.

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"According to our review, the bulk electric system is prepared to meet reliability of the state's electric demand," Richard Quimby, New York State Department of Public Service staff member focused on electric safety and reliability, said during a New York Public Service Commission meeting held remotely. The DPS is the staff arm of the NYPSC.

New York is a summer peaking state and thus needs sufficient available capability to meet loads typically well above those experienced in winter, Quimby said.

Last year's winter peak load was 23.5 GW, which was 2.5 GW lower than the all-time winter peak, which occurred during an extended cold spell that included polar vortex conditions, he said.

In addition to generation resources totaling 40.9 GW of capacity, New York can rely on 839 MW of demand response resources and 496 MW of imports, which are offset by 5.9 GW of generation outages, according to Quimby's presentation. The New York Independent System Operator expects to have 36.4 GW in net capacity resources available during the winter to serve the forecast peak load.

After accounting for 2.6 GW of operating reserves, needed to meet system contingencies, the remaining capacity margin is 9.6 GW, according to the presentation.

"In short, we have sufficient capability to serve the forecasted load during the upcoming winter," Quimby said.

Winter coordination protocol is also in place to facilitate communication between state agencies and the NYISO in cases where fuel supply for power generators may be at risk or if generator owners need a fuel specification waiver from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to maintain reliability, he said.

During extended cold snaps, dual fuel generators may need to burn fuel oil at limits that exceed permitted emission thresholds.

The state agencies involved in the winter coordination protocol include DPS, DEC, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the Department of Transportation, Quimby said.

As part of the DPS winter assessment, staff reached out to major power generation owners in Southeast New York, which includes New York City, which owns about 12 GW of dual fuel generation capability, Quimby said.

"We found that these owners continue to implement lessons learned from past winter experiences, including having pre-winter onsite fuel resources, having firm contracts with fuel oil suppliers, conducting more aggressive replenishment plans and having more proactive pre-winter maintenance and facility preparations," he said.

Staff also coordinated with the NYISO about its winter preparedness and plans for dealing with periods of tight natural gas supply. This includes closely monitoring generator fuel levels and replenishments.

The NYISO has also improved communication with interstate gas pipelines and local gas distribution companies, and neighboring ISOs during periods of tight electric operating conditions, Quimby said.

Retail price expectation

"At this point going into the winter, we project that on a statewide average basis, the full service residential commodity [power] price will be about a penny per kilowatt hour higher than last winter," Paul Darmetko, DPS staff member focused on upstate rates and tariffs, said.

Last winter, the residential price was a little under $6/kWh and it is projected to be slightly above that level this winter.

This is mainly due to last winter being very mild, he said, adding that the commodity price is expected to be roughly the same as the five-year average, but this can fluctuate depending on how cold the winter gets.

"If the weather does get cold or if other system conditions occur that would cause the market price to spike, utilities have taken steps to protect full service residential customers through their volatility management programs," Darmetko said.