New England electric grid should have enough power for the summer

  • The Merrimack Station power plant in Bow is seen at dusk on Oct. 12, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

Monitor staff
Published: 5/21/2020 3:44:13 PM
Modified: 5/21/2020 3:44:02 PM

New England has more than enough electric supplies for the summer, say the folks who run the six-state power grid.

This summer, under typical weather conditions, electricity demand is forecast to peak at 25,125 megawatts, said ISO-New England, while an extended heat wave could push demand up to 27,084 megawatts.

Both figures are less than the all-time high of 28,130 MW which came in 2006 during a prolonged heat wave, and much less than the 33,000 MW of capacity that exists.

One megawatt, or one million watts, can power between 700 and 1,000 homes. For comparison, Seabrook Station nuclear power plant can produce 1,200 megawatts.

As with most economic and industrial matters, forecasts for electricity have been scrambled by the pandemic. In New England it has cut overall electricity use by close to 5%, but it has also shifted the days and times when usage goes up and down, making forecasts more difficult. Demand for electricity is highest during the summer because of air conditioning use.

The region’s energy mix includes an increasing amount of solar and wind power. They still produce much less electricity than natural gas-fired plants or nuclear power, but are now roughly equivalent with hydropower. Last month the region produced a record 3,200 MW of rooftop solar power for one hour during a sunny afternoon.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)

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