No vortex, but power use again in polar spike

It may not be a true polar vortex, but as far as the independent system operator that runs the New England power grid is concerned – it might as well be.

ISO New England, as it did during the true polar vortex two weeks ago, has posted power alerts system-wide since last night. It essentially means all-hands-on-deck. Power generators that feed the grid must be available – no routine maintenance or testing allowed.

And as happened two weeks ago, natural gas prices are running high as some of the natural gas is being diverted for heat. And once again the region’s plants are burning a whole lot of oil and coal.

Oil is accounting for more than 20 percent of the generation Wednesday. Normally it averages less than one percent. Coal has been running about seven percent of the fuel mix. Normally it averages about three percent.

And as of early afternoon, power demand was running above the predicted demand for the day, with peak power period still several hours away.