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ISO New England Inc.'s board of directors has approved the 2012 Regional System Plan (RSP12), a comprehensive report that identifies transmission upgrades and resource additions needed to maintain a reliable supply of electricity in New England through 2021. ISO New England has issued the RSP each year since it assumed power system planning responsibility in 2000.

"For 12 years, the Regional System Plan has served the region as a record of both power system progress and power system needs," says Gordon van Welie, president and CEO of ISO New England Inc. "This year's report reviews projects that have made New England’s power grid more reliable and efficient and identifies future system improvements and initiatives. It's the product of a year’s collaboration among the ISO, public officials, state agencies, market participants, consumer advocates, and other policy and industry stakeholders.”

Highlights of the report include the following:

- From 2002 through June 2012, 400 transmission projects required for power system reliability have been put into service, representing $4.8 billion in infrastructure improvements. Of those 400, eight are major 345 kV transmission projects. These transmission upgrades reinforce critical areas of the grid where demand is highest, such as in southwest Connecticut and Boston, as well as areas that have experienced significant load growth, such as northwest Vermont. The ISO says these and other projects help maintain system reliability and enhance the region’s ability to support competitive wholesale electricity markets.

- More than 14,430 MW of new generation has been constructed in New England since 1997. Also, more than 2,000 MW of demand resources currently are part of New England’s resource mix, and more than 3,600 MW are expected to be available by 2015.

- The most recent Forward Capacity Market auction (Forward Capacity Auction #6, which was conducted in April 2012) shows that the New England region should have adequate resources to meet consumer demand through 2015/2016. However, the capacity resources in the northeastern Massachusetts/Boston area are projected to marginally meet demand for that area for the 2015/2016 timeframe, with a projected 59 MW surplus for that load zone.

- Energy consumption is projected to grow an average 0.9% annually over the next 10 years, while summer peak demand is expected to grow by 1.5% per year.

- Additional transmission upgrades identified for meeting reliability requirements are under construction, have been approved in state-level siting proceedings, or are being prepared for state siting proceedings. These include the Maine Power Reliability Program, upgrades in southeastern Massachusetts, and the New England East-West Solution, which comprises several transmission projects in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

- New England is increasingly dependent on natural gas as the primary fuel for generating electricity, while the use of oil- and coal-fired generation is declining. Between 2000 and 2011, electricity generated by natural-gas-fired power plants grew from about 15% to more than 50%. At the same time, electric energy produced by oil units declined from 22% in 2000 to less than 1% in 2011, and energy from coal plants fell from 18% in 2000 to about 6% in 2011.

- Five New England states have adopted renewable portfolio standards (RPS), and Vermont has a similar goal for increasing total generation from renewable resources. Taken together, the states’ RPS and Vermont’s similar goals call for renewable resources and energy efficiency to supply 31.8% of New England’s projected electric energy by 2021, according to the ISO.

To find out more information about the RSP12, visit ISO New England’s website.





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