Natural gas pipeline maintenance this summer could affect natural gas supplies to some power plants in the six-state New England region, but forecasts suggest that summer electricity supplies will adequately meet consumer demand under normal weather conditions, ISO New England (ISO-NE) said on Monday.

In its latest summer outlook, the regional bulk power system operator said that under normal summer weather conditions of about 90F, demand for electricity could peak at 26,690 MW. Demand could rise to 28,985 MW if an extended heat wave of about 95F occurs, it said, however. "Without the demand-reducing effect of 1,150 MW from [energy efficiency] acquired through the region’s Forward Capacity Market (FCM), the forecast for peak demand during normal weather would be 27,840 MW, and the peak demand forecast for extreme weather conditions would be 30,135 MW," it said. The situation could be exacerbated by unplanned outages of generating resources, inducing those due to fuel constraints, it warned.

In 2012, about 52% of the region’s electricity was generated by natural gas power plants. Regional demand for gas was expected to be lower during the warmer summer months, the ISO-NE said. However, because pipeline maintenance is conducted during this time, the entity would coordinate with pipeline companies to ensure that supply is adequate for power generation during the maintenance period, it said.

If all the region’s power plants were running at maximum output, the total amount of power produced would be about 31,760 MW. Only about 29,580 MW of generation is under capacity supply obligation, meaning surplus generation will likely be available to help meet peaking demand, if needed.

The ISO-NE also outlined measures it would take as a result of an unexpected outage. Actions could include calling on demand-response resources to curtail their energy use, importing emergency power from neighboring regions, and asking businesses and residents to voluntarily conserve energy.

Sources: POWERnews, ISO-NE

Sonal  Patel, Senior Writer (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)

Note: This story was originally published on May 1