Fossil fuel generation retiring faster than renewables are added, causing ‘declining reliability,’ NYISO says

Source: By Stephen Singer, Utility Dive • Posted: Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Dive Brief:

  • New York’s grid operator said Wednesday that fossil fuel generation is retiring faster than renewable resources are entering service, “leading to declining reliability margins across the state” and most acutely in the New York City area.
  • In response to the state Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, CLCPA, of 2019 and other policies, the number of transmission and supplier projects seeking to interconnect to the the state’s grid have more than quadrupled since 2019, New York’s Independent System Operator said in its Annual Grid and Markets Report.
  • More transmission investments are needed to integrate offshore wind resources and address transmission constraints, NYISO said.

Dive Insight:

The CLCPA’s final scoping plan anticipates that annual electricity demand will more than double by 2050, and calls for enhancements to the electric grid to improve the efficiency, delivery and reliability of electricity and integrate renewable energy, NYISO said.

“This combination of mandates for clean energy production and significant added demand on the grid is creating challenges and complications for balancing load with supply,” the report said.

By 2040 New York’s grid would need 111 GW to 124 GW of generating capacity to reliably meet the goals of the CLCPA and expected peak demand. That would be about three times the current capacity connected to the system.

Of that capacity, between 27 GW and 45 GW must be from non-emitting resources capable of performing like today’s fossil fuel-fired generation fleet depending on the scenario. “It is especially important to note that commercially available technologies to provide dispatchable, non-emitting supply do not exist at scale at this time,” NYISO said.

The CLCPA and clean energy policies approved this year require significant electrification of the building sector that has historically relied almost exclusively on fossil fuels for heating needs, NYISO said. Just 10% of New York’s homes currently rely on electricity for heat, the grid operator said.

To meet state policy targets, electric heating penetration would need to grow to 90% by 2050, it said. As the technology for electric heat pumps — the leading technology to convert fossil-fuel-based furnaces and boilers — advance, peak demand on New York’s grid is expected to shift to winter from summer, NYISO said.

Extreme weather such as heat waves, cold snaps and gas shortages could result in “deficiencies to serve demand statewide,” particularly in New York City where such conditions could significantly increase the “magnitude of emerging reliability concerns,” NYISO said.

Increasing levels of intermittent generation combined with higher demand in response to electrification are expected to result in at least 17,000 MW of current fossil-fueled generating capacity that must be retained to continue to reliably serve forecasted “peak” demand days in 2030, NYISO said.

New York City faces the greatest risk from limited generation and transmission. A 2022 reliability needs assessment  identified reliability margins as little as 50 MW in 2025 due to peaker plant retirements.

The Champlain Hudson Power Express project, delivering power to New York City from Quebec, is proposed to come into service in 2026. If CHPE is delayed, “substantially increased risks to reliability” could occur by 2028, NYISO said.