Canadian wildfires impacting solar production, electricity demand in New England
In recent days, smoke from wildfires in Canada has traveled to New England, significantly lowering production from solar resources in the region compared to what ISO New England would expect absent the smoke.
Most solar resources in New England are connected to the distribution system and reduce demand on the regional grid when they are producing electricity. Decreased production from these resources has the effect of increasing demand on the regional grid.
ISO New England forecasters have worked to adjust consumer demand forecasts to account for these differences, as modeling software, which relies on weather forecasts, is anticipating greater production than what ISO operators are observing in real time.
The smoke has also lowered actual temperatures in New England compared to what weather models are forecasting. This leads to lower demand on the regional grid, as there is less need for things like air conditioning.
These two factors—decreased production from solar resources and decreased consumer demand due to lower temperatures—has made forecasting demand for grid electricity challenging.
It’s difficult to determine the exact impact of each of these factors, given that there are many variables affecting consumer demand for electricity at any given moment.
In forecasting real-time and future demand for electricity, ISO New England relies on historical data from similar days, adjusting for changing system conditions. Because these smoky conditions are unprecedented in the region, there is little, if any, historical information to rely on, creating further complications in generating accurate forecasts.
Despite these complications in forecasting, ISO New England continues to manage the regional grid under normal operating conditions, and does not anticipate this changing. The ISO has long-established procedures in place to maintain system reliability, should they be needed.