Northeast scrambles to find extra power

The Northeast scrambled for every available spare megawatt Thursday as electricity consumption records continued to fall. Thursday, the PJM Interconnection LLC, the grid operator for the mid-Atlantic states, issued a request at 11:20 a.m. EDT to purchase emergency energy. PJM's said its ability to import from the West could be limited by external transmission congestion and asked for emergency bids from the North, if the energy is available.


By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Aug. 9 -- The Northeast scrambled for every available spare megawatt Thursday as electricity consumption records continued to fall.

Thursday, the PJM Interconnection LLC, the grid operator for the mid-Atlantic states, issued a request at 11:20 a.m. EDT to purchase emergency energy. PJM's said its ability to import from the West could be limited by external transmission congestion and asked for emergency bids from the North, if the energy is available.

The mid-Atlantic system operator also said it could institute 5% voltage reductions for 2-hr periods Thursday to maintain grid stability. In addition, any energy sales from PJM capacity resources outside the system may be recalled, it said. Earlier, PJM called on 2,000 Mw of voluntary interruptible contracts to help meet peak demand and lost imports. Customers agree to cut power use when called upon in exchange for lower rates.

Electric consumption in the region served by PJM is expected to top Wednesday's record-setting 53,464 Mw.

The New York Independent System Operator said it expected peak load to reach 32,000 Mw Thursday, topping Wednesday's record 30,665 Mw. After the ISO dropped below its 1,800 Mw reserve requirement Wednesday, ISO spokeswoman Carol E. Murphy said 1,600 Mw of power was recalled to help meet peak demand. Interruptible load customers supplied 320 Mw and other demand reduction programs helped shave about 260 Mw off the peak load.

She said similar conditions are expected Thursday. "The only one with juice to sell is Hydro Quebec," Murphy said, but transmission continues to be a serious regional problem.

With no relief in sight, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) declare a Stage 1 power alert, and called on interruptible customers to shed about 80 Mw of load. LIPA recorded a peak hour demand of 4,560 Mw Wednesday. With a supply of 4,645 Mw available for its customers, LIPA came within 85 Mw of rotating outages and brownouts Wednesday.

ISO New England was forecasting deficiencies in operating reserves and requested the submittal of 300-400 Mw of emergency energy bids. It also issued a power warning Thursday calling for conservation. The New England system operator was forecasting peak demand of 24,925 Mw, exceeding its installed capacity of 24,811 Mw.

The region's grid operator said Wednesday's early results showed demand peaked at 24,539 Mw. Energy Security Analysis Inc., Boston, Mass., called brownouts and load shedding in the region "distinct possibilities" for Thursday.

The energy research firm said problems could occur between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. when load is forecast to be above New England-based supply during those hours. Analyst Jaya Bajpai said the grid will become vulnerable to either outage-driven reductions in supply or heat-driven demand above forecast levels.

New York doesn't have much, if any, power to spare and power from Canada is constrained by transmission limits, he noted.

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