Natural gas shortage, supply chain issues could result in rolling blackouts in New England – WFSB

(WFSB) – Power grid operator ISO New England is warning there could be blackouts or controlled outages if we get severe cold weather this season.

It all has to do with the natural gas shortages and the supply chain issues we are seeing globally.

If the weather stays like we have been experiencing recently, then they will have enough electricity for New England, but if several cold days come, they might not have enough energy to distribute to companies, like Eversource and United Illuminating.

New England depends heavily on natural gas to create electricity and because there is a shortage, we might not have enough to meet the demand if we get bad weather.

Many people will be turning up the heat, but none could come out.

Every winter, ISO New England announces projections for the season, but as the pandemic and supply chain issues continue, the projection includes possible power shutdowns.

“Those outages will be required by the ISO to make sure the entire grid does not shut down for the regions. It’s disconcerting to say the least, because we delegated that authority as a state to the ISO,” PURA chairman Marissa Gillett tells us.

While ISO New England is where electricity comes from…

“We are really dependent on natural gas for the creation of electricity. The natural gas system into the region is pretty much loaded up if we get into cold periods, those from a heating perspective and an electricity perspective,” Anne George, vice president of external affairs and communication for ISO New England stated.

If temperatures go below normal or freezing for several days and there isn’t enough electricity, ISO could tell providers to shut down power.

“We have a woodstove, things like that. Hopefully that suffices,” Christine Casarella of Rocky Hill said.

“I think they should find a better way to rectify the problem instead of having these, so called, blackouts,” Terri-Ann Mundle of Hartford noted.

These power outages could prevent the grid from collapsing, like we saw in Texas.

“Looking to our distribution utilities to make sure they have in place plans for how they will communicate to customers if these rolling outages become necessary,” Gillett said.

ISO says blackouts are a worst case scenario, but counting on other energy types is also concerning.

“We need to look for other fuels, like liquified natural gas that gets shipped in from overseas and we have global supply concerns this year. We also can turn to oil generation for electricity and oil, because of supply chain issues is also potentially at risk,” George added.

PURA says they will be meeting next week with utility companies to make sure plans are in place if these blackouts need to happen.

We reached out to Eversource and they say they are prepared and have plans in place before shutting off power, but they will count on ISO’s guidance.

We are still waiting to hear back from other companies like United Illuminating, Southern Connecticut Gas and Connecticut Natural Gas.

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