ISO New England projects increase in electricity consumption in the region in next decade

Published on May 09, 2024 by Dave Kovaleski

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Regional electricity consumption in New England will increase by about 17 percent over the next decade, according to a new report from ISO New England.

The report said the increases will be driven primarily by the accelerating electrification of heating systems and transportation. To draw its conclusions for the 2024-2033 Forecast Report of Capacity, Energy, Loads, and Transmission (CELT Report), ISO forecasters examined expected economic growth, historical weather patterns, projected adoption of technology like distributed solar photovoltaics (PV), electric vehicles (EVs) and air-source heat pumps, and state-level carbon reduction goals.

The report is designed to serve as a foundational resource for the ISO’s system planning and reliability studies.

Specifically, the report includes:

• A long-term forecast for energy consumption and peak demand, which accounts for the impacts of electrification, energy efficiency (EE), and behind-the-meter (BTM) PV generation;
• The potential output of resources participating in the Forward Capacity Market (FCM), as well as the total generating capability of resources in the region;
• A breakdown of the region’s generators by fuel/unit classification;
• A link to the listing of transmission projects proposed, planned, and under construction, and
• Changes in regional electricity use since 1995.

Among its findings, the report said that annual energy use in New England grew steadily between 1995 and 2005, driven primarily by increased economic growth and the use of air conditioning. Since 2005, net annual energy use has trended downward mainly due to an increase in energy efficiency from advanced cooling and heating technologies, energy-efficient appliances and lighting, and the increased prevalence of BTM solar generation.

However, ISO New England is predicting that the downward trend will reverse in the next decade. The ISO is forecasting steady growth in net annual energy use as state policy goals for carbon emissions reductions drive the increased electrification of heating systems and transportation in the region.

In addition, the CELT Report Peak includes forecasts for both summer and winter peaks demand. ISO New England analysts use historical data on typical peak weather conditions to develop the 50/50 forecast, meaning there is a 50 percent chance that peak demand will be above or below the forecast. Traditionally, the expected annual peak in New England occurs during the summer. By 2033, ISO New England predicts the winter 50/50 net peak will nearly match the summer 50/50 net peak as the electrification of heating accelerates.

Under typical winter conditions, net peak demand is expected to rise by an average of 3.1 percent annually through the winter of 2033/2034. For colder weather, the net peak is expected to increase by 3.3 percent annually. Transportation electrification is forecast to contribute 3,348 MW to the 50/50 winter peak, while heating electrification is projected to contribute 3,604 MW to the 50/50 winter peak.