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ISO New England warns of vulnerability to extreme weather

Toby Talbot

New England’s power grid operator believes the region is vulnerable to extreme weather heading into the winter season. ISO-New England warned on Monday that natural gas pipeline constraints, global supply chain problems and a shortage in fuel delivery truck drivers put the region’s power system at risk.

Gordon van Welie, the President of the ISO, said New England is in a precarious position and a prolonged cold snap could require emergency actions if generators lack fuel.

“This problem is not going to go away,” van Welie said. “It’s going to gradually get worse as a result of us needing to reduce the use of fossil fuels and because extreme weather I think is going to be a big variable in the equation and given that dynamic I think that’s why we’re feeling more vulnerable.”

Peter Brandien, the Vice President of System Operations and Market Administration at ISO, said ISO will ask residential and industrial customers to reduce their power use this season.

“I don’t want to go to Hartford or Boston or something and see all the buildings all lit up at a time that we’re asking for conservation,” said Brandien.

ISO Officials said customers should turn down the thermostat, use appliances less and minimize cooking. They cited Texas last winter as an example of utilities having to reduce demand and the need for energy savings if a problem occurs.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a milder than normal winter for New England. ISO Officials said if NOAA’s forecast is accurate, then they have the resources to meet consumer demand.

Clare is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.