What’s Keeping the Lights On?

Welcome to Grid Brief! It’s time for our weekly look at what’s keeping the lights on in America’s power markets.

What’s Keeping the Lights On?

Let’s take a look at generation nation-wide before diving in:

Natural, nuclear, and coal with some surges from wind.

And the region map to orient you:

ISO New England

Natural gas nuclear and hydro power kept New England humming.

ISO-NE released its latest Regional System Plan. Like other grid operators, ISO-NE highlighted the challenges national energy policy poses for grid reliability.

“Results of the recent Future Grid Reliability Study indicate that an exclusive reliance on wind, solar, and battery resources would pose significant reliability challenges,” the grid operator said in a press release. “The interregional exchange of power will become more important as New England and neighboring regions electrify, decarbonize, and diversify. However, since these regions often experience the same weather conditions, counting on import when the grid is most stressed will need to be carefully evaluated.”

In other words: if all states and regions are committed to make wind, solar, and batteries a larger share of their energy portfolios, there will be less dispatchable power to go around for everyone.

New York ISO

Like New England, gas, nuclear, and hydro powered the Empire State. A data glitch from the Energy Information Administration obscures wind’s output on the 25th, which may have been substantial.

Note: some of the following regions will share the same EIA data gap as NY-ISO.


Natural gas and nuclear swapped first place for the top generator in America’s largest power market. Coal maintained a distant third.

PJM has selected two FirstEnergy transmission lines (totaling $373m) to handle load from data centers.


Natural gas and coal held first and second place in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator footprint—mostly. Wind had a gusty week, overcoming coal at least twice.


Wind had a big week in Texas, too. It overcame natural gas at least twice to snag the top spot in the Lone Star state. Coal sat in third, though solar did peak above it here and there.


More flowers for wind in the Southwest Power Pool. Natural gas and coal stayed in second and third, but ramped whenever wind fell.


In California, natural gas and solar traded off first place while wind and hydro scrummed for third.

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  • Could the fossil fuel industry face credit downgrades? “Much of the fossil fuel industry may be facing an era of credit downgrades if producers prove too slow to adapt to a low-carbon future, according to Fitch Ratings. Oil and gas companies stand out as the most vulnerable issuers in an analysis by Fitch, which sought to gauge how businesses will cope with climate risks such as increasingly stringent emissions regulations,” reports Bloomberg. “Fitch’s models show that more than a fifth of global corporates across regions and sectors face a material risk of a ratings downgrade due to an ‘elevated’ level of climate vulnerability over the coming decade. Half of those issuers are in the oil and gas industry, while coal and utilities also stand out as being particularly exposed to the risk of downgrades, the analysis shows.”

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