ISO New England Inc., the operator of the region's bulk power system and wholesale electricity markets, issued its summer 2006 electricity demand outlook on Wednesday.

Summer electricity use for New England is forecast to reach 27,025 MW on at least one day this summer under normal weather conditions of about 90°Ft. Extreme weather conditions, such as an extended heat wave of approximately 95°F, could increase peak demand for electricity by 1760 MW. The current record for regional electricity use is 26,885 MW, set on Wednesday, July 27, 2005. One megawatt can serve 750 to 1000 homes.

"New England should have sufficient electric generation to meet demand this summer," said Stephen G. Whitley, ISO New England's Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. "However, the region or local areas could experience tight supply situations if generation is constrained or if hot and humid weather increases demand. In these cases, the ISO has a series of longstanding measures to maintain reliability by keeping electricity supply and demand in balance."

Whitley added, "While demand for electricity continues to grow across New England, construction of new generating resources has stagnated. Without new investment in power infrastructure and greater energy efficiency and conservation, New England could soon be consuming more electricity than it can produce or buy from its neighbors." The summer outlook comes on the eve of the fourth annual ISO New England Demand Response Summit, to be held tomorrow in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. The Summit will explore innovative retail electricity pricing programs for commercial and industrial customers, which would provide financial incentives for energy efficiency when electricity demand and prices are higher. Initiatives such as these would help reduce peak electricity usage and control electricity costs for all consumers.

"Today's summer outlook will bring tomorrow's Demand Response Summit into sharp focus," Whitley added. "Reducing peak-period electricity use can deliver an immediate and sustainable impact on overall wholesale electricity prices in New England and help the region avoid unwanted stress on the regional power grid."

"With key transmission projects now being constructed and others on the drawing board, New England is making progress to ease bottlenecks and improve the flow of electricity to the region's problem areas," said Whitley. "As always, however, we continue to be vigilant of power system conditions across New England. Greater energy efficiency and demand response, and a more diverse portfolio of electricity generating resources will help the region achieve a more secure energy future."