What’s Keeping the Lights On?

Welcome to Grid Brief! Today we’re taking our weekly look at what’s keeping the lights on in America’s major power markets.

What’s Keeping the Lights On?

Before we get into the different power markets, here’s a nation-wide snapshot:

Natural gas, nuclear, and coal—with brief surges from wind.

And here’s a map to orient yourself as we move through the market areas.

ISO-New England

Natural gas, nuclear, and hydro power kept New England humming this week.

Massachusetts, one of ISO-NE’s members, is currently considering the Future of Clean Heat bill, which would provide about $40 million per year to help customers swap gas appliances for electric ones. Money for the legislation would come from a $1.50 to $2 charge to monthly heating bills. Another Massachusetts bill would allow natural gas utilities to sell and install heat pumps and develop geothermal energy systems, according to reporting from the Boston Globe.

If passed, these bills will put more demand on New England’s grid.

New York ISO

Natural gas, nuclear, and hydro were the star players in New York.

The Empire State recently supported three failing offshore wind projects owned by European firms.


Natural gas and nuclear were far and away the most prolific generators in America’s largest power market. Nuclear even briefly edged out natural gas. Coal came in third.


Natural gas and coal were the two most dominant generators in MISO, though wind did have a roaring week, usurping coal twice. When the wind lulled, nuclear held a reliable third place.

Speaking of wind, Xcel is looking to replace its Sherco coal plant in Minnesota with 1200 MW of new non-dispatchable wind.


Wind had a booming week in Texas. This chart gives you a great look at how natural gas can rev up to catch renewables when they plummet.


Wind had a remarkable performance in the Southwest Power Pool this week. Natural gas and coal caught it when it fell, but between the 22nd and 24th, wind had stellar output.


Natural gas was the king of California for most of the week with solar in a close second during the day. Hydro, wind, and nuclear duked it out for third place.

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  • Nigeria is moving to curb exports of minerals. “Nigeria’s government plans to introduce new rules to add value and export income to its mining industry by curbing exports of raw minerals and encouraging mining companies to process the raw materials into higher-value products in Nigeria,” reports Oilprice.com. “The African OPEC member, which has been struggling to raise its crude oil production in recent years, is looking to boost its export revenues from natural resources by exporting higher-value processed products, not just the raw materials.”

  • A US state department official warns of China’s supply chain domination. “Emerging U.S. businesses in the energy transition supply chain such as hydrogen and wind power should act fast to avoid being dominated by China, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday,” reports Reuters. “Geoffrey Pyatt, assistant secretary for energy resources at the State Department, said the U.S. needs to ensure that China does not dominate wind power, small nuclear power and hydrogen, an emerging fuel that could help mitigate carbon emissions from hard-to-abate industries like cement and aluminum smelting. China has enjoyed "essentially a monopoly" on solar wafers and solar cells that has prevented robust domestic solar manufacturing, he said.”

  • Finland discovered the cause of its ruptured pipeline. “Finnish authorities raised a ship anchor on Tuesday from the seafloor in the area where an underwater gas pipeline was damaged earlier this month, saying a Hong Kong-flagged vessel appears to have caused the incident,” reports Bloomberg. “The National Bureau of Investigation displayed pictures at a news conference of what it said was a 6-ton anchor that appears to be missing one of its arms, potentially belonging to the Hong Kong-flagged vessel ‘Newnew Polar Bear.’ An investigation is proceeding into whether the damage was intentional, officials told reporters in Vantaa, just outside of Helsinki.”

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