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New England’s electricity use is expected to increase by 17% over the next decade

Electric vehicles sit on a car lot in Fairfield County, Connecticut
Molly Ingram
Electric vehicles sit on a car lot in Fairfield County, Connecticut

New England’s electricity use is predicted to increase by 17% over the next decade, according to new research from ISO New England, the regional grid operator.

ISO New England is responsible for making sure the region has electricity; it operates the bulk power system, oversees the electricity markets and plans for the electric grid’s future.

Part of that planning is its annual Capacity, Energy, Loads and Transmission (CELT) report.

“Putting this information out there sort of gets at the heart of why we do the forecast looking out 10 years and beyond, so that everyone in the region, all the interested stakeholders, those who produce electricity, who consume it, who transport it, that we're all sort of on the same page of where we're going, and that we can make the proper decisions to ensure we're ready to get there,” Lead Scientist Victoria Rojo said.

Rojo said the grid’s future is busy — that’s because the region is predicted to increasingly lean on electricity to support electric vehicles and heating systems.

“We're increasingly seeing the potential for a convergence of the summer-winter peak,” Rojo said. “So for the past number of decades, we've been a summer peaking system. And so the potential to become a winter peaking system, due to the impacts of electrification of transportation and heating, is increasing over time.”

That convergence is not necessarily a problem, according to Rojo, but it is something for electricity producers and consumers to keep in mind.

For example, she said that could mean spreading out the times people plug in their electric vehicles to make sure there isn’t a strain on the grid.

Rojo also said she knows the electrification of the transportation and heating industries is a moving target. States and municipalities are still working out plans to increase the number of electric vehicles on the roads, including in Connecticut.

“We take into account that there is a level of uncertainty associated with all the goals and targets achieved and there is an evolving landscape when it comes to all the electrification technologies,” Rojo said.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.