• Grid manager urges energy conservation
     | July 17,2013

    Vermonters should turn down their air conditioners and avoid using energy-greedy appliances during high-demand hours, the manager of the New England energy grid said Tuesday.

    All of New England is in the middle of a weeklong heat wave with temperatures hitting record marks in the 90s. According to ISO-New England, energy demand is expected to peak Thursday afternoon. Temperatures are expected to hit the mid-90s today and remain sultry through Saturday.

    The nonprofit utility manager based in Holyoke, Mass., asked for voluntary conservation measures Tuesday and said conservation was needed to keep a balance in the electrical grid. Key hours for conservation efforts are between noon and 8 p.m.

    The last time ISO-New England asked for voluntary conservation measures was in 2006, said Marcia Blomberg, a spokeswoman.

    New England — and Vermont’s — all-time high for energy consumption occurred Aug. 2, 2006, according to ISO-New England and Green Mountain Power, Vermont’s largest utility.

    Bloomberg said ISO-New England could issue “more urgent” appeals for conservation if the electric grid condition warrants.

    “It’s been more than a decade since we’ve implemented one of those operating procedures to issue a more urgent appeal,” she said Tuesday.

    Christopher Recchia, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Service, said Vermont’s peak load is not growing as quickly as the rest of New England’s, largely due to energy conservation, efficiency measures, and solar and alternative energy projects that have been brought online in recent years.

    Recchia said that while New England is experiencing high power demand, it was not an emergency situation in Vermont.

    “In Vermont, I think we’ve managed our load lower,” he said. “Solar will be producing at 100 percent of capacity, and that will help a lot in the pool.”

    He said that while Vermont is tied in with the New England grid, which he termed as “vulnerable,” Vermont’s “personal peak has been less.”

    “Our load demand has been lower in the last few years,” he said.

    According to Dorothy Schnure, a spokeswoman for Green Mountain Power, peak demand in Vermont was established at 1,101 megawatts on Aug. 2, 2006.

    “We are forecasting (Tuesday) to be 712 megawatts and (Wednesday) 743 megawatts, so we are experiencing high loads but don’t expect to set a new all time record,” Schnure said via email Tuesday. “Our message is the same — voluntary conservation efforts will help balance supply and demand.”

    Schnure said setting new peak demand increases costs.

    “Any efforts to keep that peak as low as possible will help moderate costs for our customers. So avoiding any unnecessary use in mid to late afternoon will have long term cost benefits,” she said.

    Schnure said in the past few years Green Mountain Power has added 14 megawatts of solar energy, most of it coming from customers. GMP owns facilities that produce 1 megawatt of solar energy, she said.

    Among the measures recommended by ISO-New England were:

    Raise air conditioning thermostats by a few degrees if health permits, with a suggestion of between 74 and 78 degrees.

    Turn off unneeded lights and appliances.

    Turn off unnecessary office equipment.

    Shut off air conditioners when leaving home for extended periods of time.

    Defer laundry and other chores requiring electricity until the early morning or late evening hours.

    ISO-New England said it was forecasting near-record levels of demand for the week, with a peak demand for New England estimated at 27,800 megawatts today and 27,800 on Thursday as well.

    The peak demand in 2012 came on July 17 and hit 25,880 megawatts. The all-time peak set on Aug. 2, 2006 was 28,130 megawatts, Bloomberg said.

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