What’s Keeping the Lights On?

Welcome to Grid Brief! Today we’re looking at power generation in America’s power markets along with news updates for each region.

What’s Keeping the Lights On?

Here’s a look at nation-wide generation:

Natural gas, nuclear, and coal have maintained their dominance since Monday’s report on the monopoly areas.

And here’s a map to orient you:

ISO-New England

Natural gas, nuclear, and hydro have been the biggest generators in New England.

The region has been scrambling to recover from the big storm that swept from Florida to Maine and knocking out power. Utility crews are currently working to get the lights back on for New Englanders—in Maine alone some 300,000 households were without electricity as of Tuesday afternoon. The storm likely explains the major dip in generation evidenced in the chart above.


Like ISO-NE, PJM has suffered through the eastern storm, though not as painfully. Natural gas, nuclear, and coal were the top generators in America’s largest power market.

PJM is also changing up its transmission planning process. “The PJM Interconnection plans to shift next year to a scenario-based long-range transmission planning process that includes consideration of multiple benefits over 15 years away from a process that, among others things, assumes a fixed resource mix at the five-year planning horizon,” reports Utility Dive.

PJM is also trying to handle coal retirements, which has provoked arguments between the grid operator, the Sierra Club, and a coal plant owner, Talen Energy. For more insight, upgrade to Grid Brief Premium to check out our Deep Dive into the controversy over the Brandon Shores coal plant closure.


Wind had a good week in Texas, where it duked it out with natural gas for the number one spot. Third place was filled by a rotating cast: nuclear, coal, natural gas, and wind.

Here’s a look at load growth in ERCOT from a recent report by Grid Strategies: “While ERCOT continues to forecast most types of load to remain relatively flat through 2028, its forecast for new large loads spiked up to 7.4 GW over the past year. This 7.4 GW load growth represents a 9% increase over forecast loads from all other customers. ERCOT states that it expects these new loads to come from industrial facilities and ‘large flexible loads’ (which are ‘commonly’ cryptocurrency miner data centers), in roughly equal parts.”


Natural gas, coal, and wind were the main generators in MISO, though wind dropped below nuclear on several occasions.

MISO has recently approved a $9 billion transmission portfolio. This will cover over 500 projects spanning over 700 miles in new or upgraded transmission lines.

Southwest Power Pool

This week was the Platonic form of a SPP generation chart: natural gas, wind, and coal traded places all week in the top three spots.

New York ISO

Natural gas, hydro, and nuclear kept the Empire State running.


Natural gas, solar, and hydro were the big players in California.

California’s “duck curve” around solar is creating serious challenges for its grid operator. The curve is wearing down its ramping gas plants, which is a major technical challenge.

Then there’s the economic challenge: “The dynamics of the duck curve can challenge the traditional economics of dispatchable power plants because the factors contributing to the curve reduce the amount of time a conventional power plant operates, which results in reduced energy revenues. If the reduced revenues make the plants uneconomical to maintain, the plants may retire without a dispatchable replacement. Less dispatchable electricity makes it harder for grid managers to balance electricity supply and demand in a system with wide swings in net demand,” the EIA reported earlier this year.

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Conversation Starters

  • The US installed record amount of storage in ‘23 Q3. “The U.S. storage market hit a new high in Q3 2023, installing the most capacity in a quarter to date with 7,322 megawatt hours (MWh) becoming operational in the third quarter of 2023,” reports American Clean Power and Wood MacKenzie. “The U.S. grid-scale segment saw quarterly installations increase 27% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) to 6,848 MWh, a record-breaking third quarter for both megawatts (MW) and megawatt-hours (MWh) installed.”

  • Germany inks a hefty natural gas deal. “Germany’s state-controlled firm Securing Energy for Europe (Sefe) and Equinor signed on Tuesday one of the biggest-ever natural supply deals for Norway’s energy giant worth an estimated $55 billion (50 billion euros),” reports Oilprice.com. “Equinor will supply Germany’s Sefe with around 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year from January 1, 2024 until 2034, plus an option for another 5 years, at terms reflecting market prices, the Norwegian major said.”

  • Spain’s renewable energy share surpasses 50%.Renewables made up 50.8% of Spain’s electricity mix this year, rising from a 42.2% share last year, Energy Transition Minister Teresa Ribera said on Tuesday. More than half of the electricity Spain now consumes comes from renewable energy sources, the minister said, adding that total renewable generation topped 135,000 GWh this year, up from 116,695 GWh in 2022,” reports Oilprice.com. “As early as in June, analysts at Rystad Energy forecast that Spain was on track to generate more than half of its power from renewable sources this year. Spain has made substantial investments in solar and wind capacity over the last 10 years, while hydropower, which used to be Spain's largest source of renewable energy, accounts for approximately 10% of its total generation today. “ 

Crom’s Blessing

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