ISO Forward Capacity Auction Results (Again) Show Invenergy Plant Not Needed

Jerry Elmer

The ISO’s Forward Capacity Auction 11, conducted on Monday, February 6, 2017, once again shows that the proposed Invenergy fracked gas and diesel oil power plant is not needed.

The Independent System Operator-New England (ISO) is the entity that runs the New England electricity grid. The ISO is regulated under federal law, and is responsible for ensuring that there is always enough electricity on the New England power grid to keeps the lights on. Once a year, the ISO conducts a so-called “Forward Capacity Auction.” On February 6, ISO conducted its eleventh such auction, referred to as FCA-11 (for “Forward Capacity Auction 11”).

The purpose of these annual auctions is to ensure that enough electricity will be available on the New England electricity grid – not now, but in the future. Specifically, FCA-11 was designed to ensure that enough electricity would be available here in New England for the period June 1, 2020, through May 31, 2021. In order to do this properly, the ISO must take into account many factors: how much production capacity there is now; what power plants may “retire” between now and 2020 (that is, close down); how many new power plants are being built; how much electricity will be needed by customers; and many other factors.

In short, the annual ISO-run capacity auction is the government-approved method for making sure that our electricity grid remains safe and reliable.

A year ago, I reported on the results of the ISO’s FCA-10, conducted in February 2016. In that blog, I showed how those auction results demonstrated two things: (a) that the Invenergy plant is not needed for New England generally; and (b) the Invenergy plant is not needed in the ISO zone that includes Rhode Island.

Now, one year later, the ISO has just published the results of FCA-11. Not surprisingly, the latest ISO auction results show:

  • The Invenergy plant is still not needed in New England; there is a New England-wide surplus of power without Invenergy.
  • The Invenergy plant is still not needed in the ISO zone that includes Rhode Island; here, too, we have a surplus of power without Invenergy.

Let’s look at the actual ISO figures.

For all of New England, the ISO needed to procure 34,075 MW of capacity. In fact, the ISO actually procured 35,835 MW of capacity – a surplus of fully 1,760 MW.

Here in the zone that includes Rhode Island, the ISO needed to procure 9,810 MW of capacity. In fact, the ISO actually procured 11,736 MW of capacity in the zone that includes Rhode Island – a surplus of fully 1,926 MW.

Last year, in Forward Capacity Auction 10, Invenergy only obtained a Capacity Supply Obligation (CSO) from the ISO of 485 MW, from only one of its two projected turbines. (That is, last year, Invenergy tried, but failed, to sell fully 997 MW, from its two projected turbines, to the ISO.) During the intervening year, Invenergy has repeatedly assured everyone that in this year’s auction, it would sell energy from both of its projected turbines. But that did not happen. Invenergy tried but failed to sell energy from its second turbine this year. As a result, Invenergy is left with a CSO of only 485 MW.

Importantly, the zone that includes Rhode Island cleared the auction this week with a surplus of 1,926 MW.  If you deduct from that figure the full amount of Invenergy’s existing obligation to the ISO (a mere 485 MW), there is still a huge surplus – fully 1,441 MW – in the zone that includes Rhode Island. The fact that there is an enormous surplus of capacity – without any electricity whatsoever from Invenergy’s proposed power plant – is the clearest and best indication yet that the plant is not needed.

As I said last year: The ISO’s figures do not lie; they tell a very simple story. Invenergy’s fracked gas and diesel oil power plant is just not needed, which is why the state’s Energy Facilities Siting Board should simply reject its application now and be done with the project for good.

 

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