Transportation is New England Grid's biggest energy consumer, followed closely by the residential sector.
Though all but two states in the region produce a surplus of electricity, the region as a whole consumes more than it generates, thanks to Massachusetts.
More than 400 participants—including businesses, municipally owned utilities and other entities—buy and sell electricity on ISO New England's energy markets.
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont are all members of ISO The New England Grid, an independent system operator (ISO) that manages the region’s power grid and wholesale electricity markets. New England contains approximately 350 generators, which have around 31,000 megawatts of generating capacity. Power is routed along more than 8,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, which connect the region to neighboring power systems in the U.S. and Eastern Canada.
The percentage of the New England Grid’s power produced by natural gas has nearly tripled over the past 15 years, from 15% in 2000 to 44% in 2014. But not enough gas infrastructure has been added to keep pace with the growth of gas-fired power plants, and the region will likely see an upward trend in electricity prices until more energy infrastructure—including power generators and natural gas pipeline capacity—is added to the grid.
Wind, solar and other renewable resources are a small but growing part of the region’s energy mix. Some 1,800 megawatts of solar energy are projected to be available by 2023—a substantial increase from current production capacity. Although these gains are impressive, that power won’t always be available, as peak demand typically occurs in winter after the sun has set. And by even the most optimistic projections, renewable energy’s contribution to the regional power supply will always be modest relative to natural gas.
The region’s overall electricity demand is forecasted to grow 1.0% annually.
All of these states except Connecticut are members of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the first market-based regulatory program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through cap-and-trade. Delaware, Maryland and New York are also members.