The Board of Directors of ISO New England Inc., operator of the region's bulk power system and wholesale electricity markets, has approved the 2004 Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (RTEP04). The plan identifies areas of needed improvement on the region's bulk power system and provides vital information to the market for investment purposes, both necessary ingredients to assure long-term power system reliability and market efficiency.

“Reliable electricity is needed to power a growing economy,” said Gordon van Welie, ISO New England's president and CEO. “This comprehensive system plan identifies present and future system needs to guide industry investment in efficient and cost-effective solutions that will reliably serve the region and its economy for years to come.”

RTEP04 analyzed the adequacy of power system resources within New England to meet electricity needs, finding that new investment in power supply, transmission and conservation will be necessary for system reliability, particularly in the transmission-constrained areas of the region. The report finds that a reduction in generating resources, resulting from potential risk factors such as an aging number of power plants, environmental regulations, as well as financial uncertainty in the market, could bring about deficit electricity conditions in certain areas of New England within the next two to four years.

“Significant investment in generating resources in previous years created a healthy supply of power for the region that has delivered both reliability and economic benefits for New England's electricity users,” said van Welie. “This investment has slowed considerably. With growing electricity demand, aging power supply resources and ongoing bottlenecks on the transmission system, New England must invest now in its energy future to ensure the benefits of a reliable and efficient system continue.”

New England currently has approximately 250 planned or proposed regulated transmission projects throughout the region, including a number of projects that have been newly identified in this year's report. Investment in these projects could be approximately US$3 billion in New England over the next 10 years. The actual amount of investment depends on the final design of each upgrade or addition.

One of the major projects included in this year's RTEP is a second interconnection from Maine to New Brunswick. This 345-kV line will ensure reliability benefits throughout the region by addressing several bulk power system needs, providing additional opportunities for energy exchange with New Brunswick, and improving the reliability and efficiency of the bulk power system.

The fourth edition of the RTEP report provides a comprehensive description of transmission projects and a detailed explanation of resource requirements, including the location, timing and amount of needed new supplies.