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Some power plants face fines after December failure

Some power plants scheduled to feed the region’s electric grid during peak demand on Christmas Eve failed to do so, grid operator ISO New England said this week, resulting in a shortage of operating reserves.

Those energy generators now face $39 million in penalties for not performing when needed as per agreement with ISO-New England, which declared a capacity deficiency on Christmas Eve, meaning the region’s supply of electricity was insufficient to meet required operating reserves, in addition to satisfying consumer demand.

The capacity deficiency occurred while swaths of New England experienced widespread power outages as a result of electricity distribution system issues caused by the storm that came through, said ISO New England spokesman Matt Kakley. The grid asked consumers to voluntarily conserve power at that time.

Maine was hit hardest by outages − approximately 300,000 Central Maine Power customers lost power during the storm and its aftermath. Tens of thousands were without power on Christmas Day.

ISO-New England announced this week that several power plants failed to come online as scheduled during peak electricity demand on Christmas Eve. Pictured is ISO's grid operating room.

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ISO New England started the winter season warning of potential energy emergencies coming down the line, including electricity blackouts during prolonged cold spells. But the grid operator explained capacity deficiencies like the one that occurred on Christmas Eve aren’t what it is ringing the alarm about.

“Capacity deficiencies are typically short-duration events caused by the unexpected loss of resources and affecting the peak demand hours of the day,” ISO New England said in a news release. “Energy emergencies, by contrast, would typically occur when a significant amount of resources lack the fuel to operate and produce electricity, and can affect all hours and last several days until resources are able to replenish their fuel supplies.”

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