New England turns to fuel oil for the coming winter.
Bruce W. Radford is publisher of Public Utilities Fortnightly. Contact him at email@example.com.
With cold weather now not far off, fear is rising in New England of a repeat of last winter, when natural gas delivery failures pushed the power system to the brink. To prevent a recurrence, the region’s grid operators are going back to the future: back to oil-fired generation, which dominated long before the emergence of a competitive wholesale power market.
To safeguard reliability for the coming winter heating season, ISO New England has called on the power industry, starting in December, to deliver an emergency inventory of up to 4.2 million barrels of fuel oil – a winter stockpile figured to be worth some 2.4 million MWh, assuming 42 gallons per barrel, 137,000 Btu per gallon, and a heat rate (thermal efficiency) for oil-fired power plants of 10,000 Btu/kWh.
That’s the total contribution from oil-fired generation that grid operators say they’ll need if temperatures this season should fall as low as in the winter of 2003 and ’04, the coldest seen in New England over the last 10 years.