Solar power reduced New England power grid demand by 3% in 2022

Behind-the-meter solar last year reduced demand on New England’s bulk electric system by an estimated 3,764 gigawatt-hours (GWh)—enough electric energy to power about 430,000 homes for a year.

The region consumed roughly 119,000 GWh of electricity in 2022. Without demand reductions from solar, consumption from the grid would have been about 3% higher.

Behind-the-meter photovoltaics (BTM PV) are residential and other solar installations connected to local electricity distribution systems, rather than the regional transmission system. BTM PV also does not participate in the wholesale electricity markets administered by ISO New England. But the ISO gathers data from distribution companies and other sources to track the growth of BTM PV and other distributed energy resources, and forecast how they will impact the bulk power system.

The ISO began tracking BTM PV production in 2014, when solar installations reduced grid demand by an estimated 556 GWh. The 2022 results—which are in line with the ISO’s forecast of 3,747 GWh—show the region’s BTM PV output has grown almost sevenfold in less than a decade. If current projections hold, that number could more than double over the next 10 years.

New England has approximately 283,000 distributed solar installations totaling about 5,500 megawatts (MW) in nameplate capacity, according to the ISO’s most recent survey of distribution companies.1 That includes BTM PV, which is approximately 60% of the total, as well as other distributed solar resources that do participate in the wholesale markets. This count generally does not include utility-scale PV projects connected to the transmission system.

The ISO projects New England will have nearly 12,000 MW of distributed solar capacity by 2032. The organization is in the process of refining its annual PV forecast, which will include breaking that number down into its BTM and other components. Final results are expected in May.

1. Nameplate capacity refers to the total amount of electricity a resource could produce running at 100% of its capability.

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