SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) – Officials who run New England’s power supply said Wednesday there’s plenty of energy to keep the lights on and air conditioning blowing throughout most of the region this summer.

But Stephen Whitley, senior vice president of ISO New England, said he’s expecting two trouble spots when the mercury rises: southwest Connecticut and northwest Vermont.

“New England’s summer power forecast is the best it’s been in years,” Whitley said. “We don’t expect any region-wide problems.”

The projected regional peak demand for normal weather conditions this summer is 25,120 megawatts. That’s expected to rise to 26,630 MW on extremely hot days, exceeding last year’s record of 25,348 MW set Aug. 14, Whitley said.

The 350 generators fueling New England’s power grid will produce enough energy for most of the 6.5 million customers who rely on it.

But areas in Connecticut and Vermont could run into problems this summer, Whitley said.

In southwest Connecticut, there isn’t enough energy being produced to meet usage needs. Whitley said peak demand in the area could top 3,700 MW in extreme heat, but only 2,150 MW are produced locally.

He said the area’s transmission lines can’t transport enough power into the area to make up the difference between what’s produced and what’s needed.

“If the local power plant goes down, or if one of those antiquated power lines fails, it could spell real trouble,” Whitley said.

“The past two summers, we’ve been able to squeak by.”

In northwest Vermont, the power line that carries electricity to the area from New York recently failed and isn’t expected to be repaired in time for summer’s hottest days.

“This means power supplies could be tight in the event of extended hot weather,” Whitley said. “It makes the entire region more vulnerable to power outages if another line goes down or a power plant that feeds the region unexpectedly goes off line.”

If power demands appear to overtax the supply in those areas, customers will likely be asked to voluntarily curb their usage to avoid brownouts or blackouts, Whitley said.

“We will have to be prepared for rotating blackouts,” Whitley said. “We hope we don’t have to do it, but we’ll do it if it’s necessary to protect the whole region.”

Whitley said local power companies in northwest Vermont and southeast Connecticut are working to increase their power supplies and strengthen their power lines so they can get more energy from generators in other areas.

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On the Net: http://www.iso-ne.com/

AP-ES-05-07-03 1429EDT



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