ISO New England to pilot internet interruptible load program

In a first, ISO New England Inc. is testing a system that will allow the operator of New England's bulk electric power grid to interrupt power blocks of participating industrial and commercial customers via the internet. The pilot's objectives are twofold, according to ISO New England: to demonstrate that a load response program can increase reliability and allow industrial and commercial customers to respond to price signals in the wholesale electricity marketplace.


In a first, ISO New England Inc. is testing a system that will allow the operator of New England's bulk electric power grid to interrupt power blocks of participating industrial and commercial customers via the internet.

The pilot's objectives are twofold, according to ISO New England: to demonstrate that a load response program can increase reliability and allow industrial and commercial customers to respond to price signals in the wholesale electricity marketplace.

The pilot project will run from November 2000 to March 2001 for 10-15 Mw of load from participating customers of New England Power Pool (NEPOOL). It will include suppliers such as NewEnergy Inc. and Select Energy Inc.; utilities such as National Grid PLC and NSTAR; and large customer buying groups such as PowerOptions, ISO New England reported.

When the cost of power is high, or in the event of a capacity deficiency, these interruptible customers will be paid to curtail their use of power from the grid�either by cutting back on their use of electricity or by obtaining power from their own onsite generation.

The pilot program will allow ISO New England to manage load, in virtually real-time, with the click of a mouse, said ISO New England CEO Philip J. Pellegrino. With the ability to quantify load reduction through the pilot program, Pellingrino said ISO New England will ultimately be able to lower operating reserve requirements and also reduce air emissions from the plants that would have provided operating reserve.

This will be accomplished by treating the amount of interruptible megawatts as 10-minute nonspinning reserves, one of the NEPOOL wholesale market products that provides for system reliability. By acting as 10-minute nonspinning reserve, these interruptible megawatts will reduce the amount of generation resources committed for reserves.

ISO New England said planning studies indicate that with a 500 Mw subscribed load reduction, savings in electricity production costs could amount to $30 million/year and reductions in air pollution could total up to 280 tonnes of nitrogen oxide (NOx), 200 tonnes of sulfur dioxide (SO2), and 230,000 tonnes of carbond dioxide (CO2).

If the pilot proves successful, a larger group load response program would be implemented by next summer, New England's peak season for electricity consumption, ISO New England said.

Retx.com's internet-based load management dispatcher (LMD) will serve as the pilot program's application service provider and EFI, a Boston-based energy consulting firm, will serve as program consultant to ISO New England.

The LMD will track ISO New England market prices and provide automated notification to the energy service or load provider, or customer, when predetermined opportunities become available in the market.

The LMD will be integrated into the ISO New England' s hourly energy trading platform, which will then stream real-time electronic price signals to the energy company. This information is combined with the commercial customer's energy usage and load management strategies to establish an economic dispatch opportunity, according to the grid operator.

ISO New England said it will begin notification of a potential interruption with a click of the mouse. Once notification is received, the customer can then decide whether or not to interrupt load based on whether the spot energy price exceeds the customer's desired dispatch point.

Once the interruption is completed, LMD will collect end-use customer usage data via a meter data recorder installed at the customer's site. LMD then provides customer-specific hourly performance data that is matched with the hourly clearing price. This information will allow the ISO to properly credit the customer financially and will have metered data on the amount of interrupted megawatts that can be measured against the operating reserve requirement.

EFI will establish management processes for the communication, implementation, and evaluation of the program. During the program, ISO New England said customers will be treated as a group to provide greater flexibility when notification of a potential interruption is made.

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