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July 20, 2013

Record-high temps lead to power grid warnings

The agency responsible for transmitting electricity throughout New England implemented a series of steps yesterday aimed at coping with the record-high heat and the huge demand for power.

ISO New England declared yesterday at 3 p.m. that there was a “capacity deficiency” in the regional power grid as Boston Logan Airport reached a peak temperature of 99 degrees, a record for the day. In addition to a request for voluntary conservation issued Thursday, the agency implemented several other steps to manage the deficiency.

According to the ISO website and updates that were emailed to various public safety officials throughout the state, as of noon ISO New England put out a “power caution” for all of New England. The designation is the first and lowest step of 11 that ISO takes in the event that demand exceeds energy supply.

In Action 1, as it’s called, ISO advises power companies to “prepare to provide all associated capacity.” At 2:20 p.m. yesterday, Action 2 was declared, and at 3 p.m., Action 3 was declared.

According to National Grid spokesman David Graves, the actions are taken during peak demand incidents and are advisories to the power companies in New England to send people to the substations in the event a voltage reduction is needed.

In addition, ISO put out Action 5, which is an advisory to power companies to cut back energy use in their own facilities. They are requested to turn off lights and work stations that aren’t being used, for example.

Those higher action requests were called off at 6 p.m., but a “power caution” remained in place last night as of about 8 p.m.

“That’s about as far as we get,” Graves said, referring to level 5. The real concern is when ISO issues Action 9, 10 or 11, he said, which is when rolling blackouts are implemented.

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