ISO New England’s first energy efficiency forecast affects transmission planning

ISO New England’s (ISO-NE) first regional energy efficiency (EE) forecast is already having a significant effect on the RTO’s transmission planning studies for the region, according to Stephen Rourke, vice president of system planning with ISO-NE.

The forecast results show a total projected spending on EE of $5.7bn from 2015 to 2021, he said during a Dec. 12 media briefing.

According to his accompanying presentation, annual electricity consumption remains flat, with an average annual energy savings of 1,343 GWh and a total projected reduction over seven years of 9,399 GWh.

Rourke said the forecast estimated an average reduction in the peak demand each year of 206 MW from 2015 to 2021.According to his presentation, the forecast also shows a total projected reduction over seven years of 1,444 MW.

Energy efficiency measures include building insulation, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades and more efficient appliances.

Each of the six New England states has made EE a significant part of its energy policy, with about $1.2bn spent on EE programs across the region from 2008 to 2011, Rourke said. During those four years, more than 3,500 GWh have been saved, or an average of about 876 GWh per year.

Of the New England states, Massachusetts is slated to spend the most on EE measures, according to ISO-NE.

Between 2015 and 2021, spending on energy efficiency measures in Massachusetts will total $3.6bn, with a projected annual average reduction in energy consumption of 786 GWh and an annual average reduction in peak demand of 122 MW.

Connecticut follows with $775.5m of spending on such measures between 2015 and 2021, and Rhode Island rounds out the top three with $550.5m of spending on such measures during the same period.

On transmission, Rourke said: “We revised the ongoing study of the Vermont/New Hampshire area of the power grid by applying the projected EE savings, along with some new resources and other minor upgrades in the network. The revised analysis shows that the region can actually defer 10 transmission upgrades that earlier studies showed were needed to ensure reliability of the system. By deferring these upgrades, the region will save an estimated $260m.”

According to ISO-NE, deferred upgrades include capacitor upgrades in northern Vermont and southern New Hampshire as well as line upgrades in northwestern Vermont, the Connecticut River area, southeastern Vermont and northern Vermont.

Rourke said the EE forecast has no influence on Northeast Utilities’ (NYSE:NU) Northern Pass project, which according to TransmissionHub data, would involve 140 miles of 300-kV DC and 40 miles of 345-kV AC transmission lines and would bring renewable energy from Quebec into New Hampshire to satisfy the need for additional renewable energy in New England.

Northeast Utilities merged with NSTAR earlier this year.

“The compelling benefit of the Northern Pass project remains,” a Northeast Utilities spokesperson told TransmissionHub on Dec. 12. “The project will displace or replace dirtier, more expensive, sources of power. The result will be reduced carbon emissions and lower energy prices for New Hampshire and the New England region.”

The project will help address the region’s increased reliance on natural gas, he said, adding that ISO-NE has identified that reliance as one of the region’s key risk factors. The spokesperson also said that while energy efficiency measures are helping the region and individual customers, as well as reduce and control energy use, projects like the Northern Pass remain a critical part of New England’s future success.

Rourke said that ISO-NE is applying the findings from the long-term EE forecast to other studies that look beyond the three-year forward capacity market (FCM) timeframe, including other long-term transmission needs assessments and solutions studies that are underway, he said.

The impact of New England’s state-sponsored EE programs can be seen in the FCM. On the wholesale side, the FCM includes an annual auction to procure commitments from generators and demand-side resources to be available roughly three years from now, he said. Since the first auction was held in 2008, the amount of energy efficiency in the market has more than doubled, with this year’s auction procuring about 1,500 MW of EE that is expected to be available in 2015-2016.

Without a way to estimate accurately how much EE would materialize beyond the third year, the amount of EE procured in the most recent FCM auction was held constant for years four through 10 of the 10-year load forecast, according to his presentation.

ISO-NE, at the request of the New England states and other stakeholders, “embarked on thedevelopment of this EE forecast to help us look beyond the three year horizon for FCM and that has led to the development of this forecast,” Rourke said.

Among other things, he noted that ISO-NE is working on its second EE forecast for 2016 to 2022, which is due in February 2013.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3205 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at