Regulatory action ensures New York has enough electricity set aside to address heat waves and other emergencies
The New York State Public Service Commission has approved an increase in the amount of electricity kept in reserve during the summer peak in New York to ensure adequate levels of electricity capacity are available to serve peak load and system emergency conditions.
“Ensuring reliability is a fundamental cornerstone of this agency,” PSC Chair John B. Howard said. “Nothing is more important than to make sure enough electricity is available to keep New York moving forward. Our action today is intended to ensure the adequacy of electric generating facilities in New York. As such, it is a key tool available to the commission to foster the adequacy of generating resources.”
On Dec. 4, the New York State Reliability Council, a not-for-profit group made up of large utilities, power generators, and large industrial consumers, amongst others, proposed an installed reserve margin (IRM) for New York of 20.7% for the upcoming capability year (May 1, through April 30, 2022), a 1.8% increase from the previous year. The IRM represents the amount of installed capacity that must exist in New York to ensure the applicable resource adequacy reliability criteria are met.
According to the analysis, peak summer load in New York this year is expected to be 32,243 MWs, only slightly higher than the comparable prediction for the summer of 2020. Actual summer peak load in 2020 was 30,450 MWs, over 5% lower than the initial prediction. Peak summer load has been steadily declining largely due to significant statewide energy-efficiency gains.
Peak demand is a measurement of the average total electric demand by consumers for a one-hour period. One megawatt of electricity can serve approximately 800-1,000 homes. In July 2013, New York recorded a record peak of 33,956 MW at the end of a week-long heat wave.
The PSC said that, while COVID-19 has led to a drop in overall electricity usage throughout New York, the pandemic has not materially impacted summer peak load projections. This is due to a variety of factors, including a projected gradual increase in load due to gradual reopenings and greater in-home electricity use.
It noted the action will not result in a significant impact on the environment, since it is implementing an existing policy for ensuring the adequacy of resources by maintaining the probability of a loss of load due to a resource deficiency at no more than once in 10 years, on average. The recalibration of the IRM furthers this established policy, and accounts for changes in the modeling data.
The total capacity of power resources available to New York this summer is expected to be 40,307 MW. Available resources include 37,463 MW of generating capacity from power plants in New York and 1,562 MW of net purchases and sales from neighboring regions capable of supplying energy to New York.
In addition to power plant generating capacity and the ability to import power from neighboring regions, 1,282 MW of demand response resources are available. Demand response programs enlist large users of electricity and aggregations of smaller power customers to reduce electricity consumption when called upon.
The effect of energy-efficiency programs, distributed solar photovoltaics, and nonsolar-distributed resources are included in the forecast. These resources moderate the growth of peak load and reduce overall energy usage from the grid.
PSC said New York’s rules are more stringent than other states to avoid severe consequences that may result from power interruptions in New York City and Long Island, given the geographic characteristics of those two markets. The Reliability Council is responsible for developing reliability rules in accordance with the standards, criteria and regulations set forth by the commission, the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), the Northeast Power Coordinating Council (NPCC), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
This decision may be obtained by going to the commission documents section of the PSC’s website at www.dps.ny.gov and entering case numbers 07-E-0088 or 05-E-1180 in the input box labeled "Search for Case/Matter Number." Documents may also be obtained from the commission’s files office, 14th floor, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223 (518-474-2500).