New York ISO report evaluates progress so far on power system changes

The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) on July 5 released its annual Power Trends report, which provides an in-depth look at the forces shaping the future of the New York State electric grid.

This year’s report examines shifting patterns of electricity use, a growing need for investment in transmission infrastructure, persistently low natural gas prices, and public policies promoting renewable and distributed resources. These dynamics are all combining to reshape the energy landscape, the report finds.

“How people think about and use electricity is changing as quickly as the technology that generates and delivers it,” said Brad Jones, NYISO President and CEO. “Our grid operations and electricity markets are transforming to serve consumer needs, address public policy goals, and meet rigorous requirements for electric system reliability.”

The major conclusions for this year include:

Changing Energy Usage and Moderating Peak Demand

  • Year-over-year growth in the overall usage of electric energy from New York’s bulk electric system is expected to flatten or decline slightly over the next decade.
  • Peak demand, the period of electric usage, is projected to grow, but it is expected to increase at a more moderate pace than previously forecast.
  • Energy efficiency is expected to reduce peak demand on New York’s bulk power system by 255 megawatts in 2016 and by more than 1,800 megawatts in 2026. Distributed solar photovoltaic resources and other behind-the-meter resources are also reducing demand from the bulk electric system as consumers install on-site systems to meet their electricity needs.

Transmission as Enabler

  • Upgraded transmission capability is vital to efficiently moving power to address regional power needs. The downstate region of New York (Long Island, New York City, and the Lower Hudson Valley) annually uses 58% of the state’s electric energy. Yet, that region’s power plants generate only 40% of the state’s electricity.
  • New York’s major hydropower resources and all existing and proposed windpower projects are located in northern and western regions of the state – hundreds of miles from the high-demand metropolitan regions of southeastern New York. Expanded transmission will more effectively deliver renewable power throughout the state.

Enhancing Environmental Quality and Cultivating Green Power

  • From 2000 through 2015 New York’s air quality improved as power plant emission rates dropped significantly. SO2 emissions rates declined 97%. NOx emission rates declined 79%. CO2 emission rates declined 42%.
  • In 2015, 23% of New York’s electricity was produced by renewable resources. Electricity produced from water, wind, solar and other renewable sources accounted for 32,943 gigawatt-hours of the 142,346 gigawatt-hours of electric energy generated in New York last year.
  • The generating capacity of wind-powered projects in New York grew from 48 MW in 2005 to 1,754 MW in 2016. More than 3,700 MW of additional windpower projects are currently proposed for interconnection with the New York bulk electric system.
  • There is currently one grid-scale solar project in New York, a 32-MW facility located on Long Island. Another 233 MW of capacity from grid-scale solar photovoltaic projects are currently proposed for interconnection with the New York bulk electric system.
  • New York’s proposed Clean Energy Standard will mandate that 50% of all electricity consumed in New York by 2030 come from clean and renewable energy sources. The NYISO estimates that the additional renewable energy would require carbon-free generating capacity additions approximately equivalent to the following levels, which reflect the limited ability of intermittent resources to generate electric energy compared to their maximum installed power capacity: 25,000 MW of solar photovoltaics, or 15,000 MW of wind turbines, or 4,000 MW of hydro power.

The Impacts of Natural Gas and the Future of Nuclear Power

  • Power plants fueled by natural gas (both gas-only and dual-fuel) provide 57% of New York’s total generating capacity.
  • 47% of New York’s generating capacity is composed of dual-fuel units. These facilities, predominantly located in downstate New York, offer the flexibility of operating on natural gas or an alternative fuel (typically oil), as determined by market signals or reliability requirements.
  • Natural gas and dual-fuel projects account for more than 70% of the proposed generating capacity being studied by the NYISO for interconnection to the grid.
  • Low natural gas prices drove record low wholesale electric energy costs in 2015. The average wholesale electric energy price ($44.09 per megawatt-hour) was the lowest in the 15-year history of New York’s competitive markets for wholesale electricity.
  • The effects of persistently low natural gas prices on wholesale electricity prices may be positive for consumers in the near-term, but it is contributing to emerging resource adequacy issues as power plants retire and the fuel mix becomes less diverse. From 2016 to 2018, approximately 2,300 MW of generation are planned to retire or suspend operation.
  • The emission-free attributes of nuclear generation and the fast-starting ability of gas-fired turbines to balance variable resources such as wind and solar mean that both types of generation provide essential support for New York’s clean energy goals.

Integrating Distributed Energy Resources

  • New York’ State’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative is identifying regulatory changes and market developments to facilitate the role of distributed energy resources.
  • Distribution-level solar photovoltaics, in 2016, have an estimated summer capability of more than 250 MW. That total is expected to triple by 2026.
  • Recently adopted changes open NYISO markets to behind-the-meter generation that produces more power than consumed by its host facility. This is expected to introduce more than 100 MW of existing capacity into New York’s wholesale electricity markets.
  • In collaboration with its stakeholders, the NYISO is developing a Distributed Energy Resource Roadmap to help guide changes in wholesale electricity market design that will enhance integration of distributed energy resources. In addition, the NYISO is developing forecasting tools needed to successfully integrate solar resources and exploring the potential of storage resources with an Energy Storage Market Integration and Optimization initiative.

Markets Sustaining Reliability and Enhancing Efficiency

  • New York’s competitive wholesale electric markets have provided significant benefits to the state and its electricity consumers. Since 2000, the markets have contributed to improved generation efficiency and lower reserve requirements that produced $7.7 billion in savings; reduced carbon emissions equivalent to taking approximately 5 million cars off the road, and increased renewable generation that provides enough wind-powered electricity to serve half-a-million New York homes.
  • New generation – representing 30% of the current capacity of New York’s power plants – has been added since the start of New York’s wholesale electricity market. From 2000 to 2016, those additions totaled more than 11,600 MW.
  • More than 80% of the new generation has been added in the Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island, where demand for power is greatest.
  • Since 2000, more than 2,700 MW of transmission capability have been added to serve the high-demand southeastern New York region.
  • Demand response programs developed in competitive wholesale markets provide more than 1,200 MW of resources to address peak demand.
About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.