Boston, MA – Yesterday, Acadia Center urged federal and regional energy leaders to launch an initiative focused on ramping up demand response to help with winter reliability and spiking consumer costs through comments at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). 

In response to a request for comments by FERC related to the risk of winter blackouts in New England, Acadia Center requested that FERC require ISO-New England immediately to launch an initiative to substantially ramp up clean, low-cost demand response programs to help avoid the risk of winter blackouts. 

In her comments, Melissa Birchard, Acadia Center’s Director for Clean Energy and Grid Transition, said that ISO-New England’s plan to enact rolling blackouts in case of prolonged extreme cold weather is like throwing an axe in the dark – poorly planned and likely to inflict substantial harm.  In contrast, strategic demand response is like a well-targeted scalpel helping to fine-tune consumer demand to meet electricity supply so that blackouts are either avoided or shortened.  “Demand response is the easiest, quickest, and cheapest solution to help avoid winter blackouts—and it’s a clean, low-carbon grid resource that pays consumers across the region to help out when needed,” says Birchard.  “ISO-New England is looking at the solutions to this problem far too narrowly.  FERC needs to direct ISO-New England to work with the states to implement proven solutions now including ramped up demand response.” 

Both ISO-New England and each of the six New England states already have demand response programs, which can incrementally adjust consumer demand by, for example, turning up or down water heaters a couple of degrees, adjusting large banks of lighting, or switching on batteries located in homes and businesses.  But current demand response programs are almost all operated to lower demand on the electric grid in the summer, not the winter.  Given that the biggest stressors on the electric system in New England now take place in the winter, ISO-New England needs to work with the states to ramp up wintertime demand response immediately.  

Acadia Center also participated with partners in urging that FERC direct ISO-New England to work with stakeholders to scope out with specificity the level and nature of winter reliability risks, and to implement market reforms to help alleviate those risks.  Previously, Acadia Center filed comments that included an explainer outlining the clean energy solutions that can help to address New England’s winter reliability concerns, now and in the future. 


Media Contact 
Melissa Birchard 
Director, Clean Energy & Grid Transition