New York Grid Operator Report Finds Reliability Concerns
Coalition Offers Zero-Emissions Ideas to Solve New York's Power Shortfall
As New York City faces a looming power shortfall in 2025, concerns have been raised about the potential impact of the retirement of select power plants that help meet rising demand and stabilize the energy grid to remain reliable (aka “peaker plants”). The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), the non-profit grid operator responsible for ensuring a reliable electricity supply in New York, has been warning about this issue for years. The shortfall stems from increasing demand and the phased retirement of older peaker plants, a response to the state's environmental regulations targeting carbon emissions in the downstate region.
According to NYISO, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (NYS DEC) Peaker Rule, adopted at the end of 2019, reduces ozone-contributing pollutants associated with New York State-based peaking unit generation. Compliance obligations is supposed to be phased in between 2023 and 2025, impacting approximately 3,300 megawatts (MW) of electricity generation.
The Clean Energy Jobs Coalition-NY believes, “New York needs a smooth transition to a clean energy future. We can achieve this by creating access to clean, reliable, and affordable electricity made in-state that works 24/7 without interruption and independent of the weather.”
Meeting the Demand: To tackle the reliability challenge, NYISO's issued a 169-page report that found a reliability need starting in summer of 2025 due to forecasted increases in peak demand and power generation resources retiring due to the NYS DEC’s “Peaker Rule.” The report highlights a crucial need for an additional 446 megawatts of electricity during peak demand hours on a scorching day, assuming two generators or transmission lines unexpectedly go offline and the temperature soars to 95 degrees. It's worth noting that the shortfall could be even more severe if the city experiences an intensified heatwave.
Seeking Solutions: In response to this identified reliability need, NYISO will explore various solutions within the market and, as part of its power planning process, ask for public comments over the next two months. However, given the complex permitting process and other associated obstacles in New York City/State, it appears likely that NYISO will invoke its statutory power (independent of the state) to keep some of the peaker plants operational in 2025 for grid reliability purposes.
The simple truth is New York City's looming power shortfall in 2025 presents a significant challenge for ensuring a reliable energy grid. As NYISO explores solutions to address this concern, it is vital for the state to consider New York based generation including utility-sized geothermal systems, new clean technologies using hydrogen, and new, safer nuclear systems.
For example, an immediate reliability solution could be power plant sites that are no longer in use but supported communities and schools for decades could and should be used for new, clean energy systems that incorporate zero emissions utility-sized geothermal, hydrogen or other zero-emissions technologies. These locations are already sited for power generation. They also have the necessary infrastructure to immediately provide clean power to drive down the cost of electricity, create thousands of jobs, and bolster reliability.
As such, New York should take another look inward and rediscover the potential of its unused power plants as well as revisit upgrading existing peaker plants with green-tech retrofits. These moves will drastically reduce emissions, avert unnecessary reliability issues, and re-energize the local economy.
Given the reliability issues raised by NYISO, New York should not be rejecting power plant upgrades that will lower emissions in poor communities while this transition takes place. Instead, investing in domestic power generation can foster middle-class sustaining growth while advancing climate goals and strengthening grid reliability for years to come.