New England power plant portfolio

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A recent report by the New England wholesale electricity market's monitor sheds light on the region's portfolio of generation resources, and how they are changing.

The ISO New England, Inc. Internal Market Monitor's 2016 Annual Markets Report provides information on the average age of the region's generation fleet, broken down by fuel type.
Figure 2-4, 2016 Annual Markets Report.

According to the report, the average age of New England’s generators is 30 years, but different resource types show diverging average ages.  New England's coal-fired power plants are the oldest on average, with an average age of 53 years.  Oil generators' average age is 37 years.  Natural gas generators' average age is 18 years, reflecting more recent construction.  Wind and solar have the youngest fleet average age, at 6 and 3 years respectively.

Another chart in the 2016 Annual Markets Report shows generator additions, retirements, and cumulative change.

Figure 2-7, 2016 Annual Markets Report.
This chart shows that over 2,000 megawatts of capacity was added to the grid between the Forward Capacity Market's launch and the 2016-2017 capacity commitment period (CCP 7).  But the retirement of a number of large resources for CCP 8 (including the Brayton Point coal unit and Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station) "left the market short of capacity and led to higher auction clearing prices."  According to the market monitor, the market reacted to this shortfall in the subsequent three auctions, yielding higher prices that can support new entry in excess of retirement.

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