Behind the Switch: We Are ISO New England

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By Anne C. George, Vice President, Chief External Affairs and Communications Officer at ISO New England

GUEST COLUMN FOR EASTBOSTON.COM

(October 4, 2023) Across New England, there are signs of change in how the region generates and uses electricity. Solar panels dot our rooftops, heat pumps keep residents warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and electric vehicles cruise down our streets and highways.

And this is just the beginning as state and federal policymakers promote measures to remove emissions (decarbonize) from our economy to lessen the effects of climate change. These efforts will require the continued commitment and collective work of individuals, organizations, and communities across our region.  

ISO New England has a role to play in this work. As the region’s not-for-profit, independent system operator, we work around the clock to make sure New Englanders have access to a reliable power system, today, tomorrow, and decades from now.

So who are we exactly?

We are the operators of the region’s power grid, working 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year to carefully coordinate the flow of electricity to meet the demand of 15 million New Englanders. 

ISO New England
The ISO New England Control Room. (Photo courtesy ISO NE)

We are the administrators of the region’s competitive wholesale energy marketplace, which functions much like an energy stock exchange, where buyers, like your local utility, purchase electricity to be delivered to your home or business. 

We are the engineers studying the system’s 9,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, ensuring electricity can flow safely across the region, even as new, cleaner energy resources are developed and older resources retire.

Above all, we’re your neighbors and part of your community, working toward the shared goal of a reliable, cost-effective, and balanced electric system that is available at the flip of a switch.

As the power system evolves, achieving this goal becomes more challenging. Older, less efficient resources are retiring, and replaced by cleaner alternatives that require additional investment. This necessitates collaboration between the ISO, state policymakers, and consumers to make what can be difficult decisions to address both short-term and long-term problems.

Though this may sound daunting, our confidence in the future lies in the success of the past. New England has a long history of working together toward shared goals in the energy sector.

Over the past two decades, this collaboration has led to an increase in more efficient energy resources in our region. The net result of this is a power system that is cost-effective and reliable, with far lower carbon dioxide and other air emissions than at the beginning of the century.

Investments in the region’s transmission system have led to a grid that allows the seamless flow of electricity across six states today and will serve as the backbone of the future power system.

We invite everyone to join in and follow along as the region’s next great energy transformation plays out. In fact, it’s never been easier for New Englanders to see what’s happening on their power system. 

Our website, www.iso-ne.com, and mobile app, ISO to Go, provide real-time information, including current consumer demand levels, wholesale electricity prices, and the mix of resources providing energy at any given moment.

Our blog, www.isonewswire.com, provides news and updates on major ISO New England projects, and the people behind them.

Four times a year, we travel across the region for meetings of the Consumer Liaison Group, a forum for the exchange of information between ISO New England and electricity consumers in New England. These public meetings rotate across the New England states and include a virtual option for those unable to attend in person.

We are ISO New England, and we’re the people behind the power grid. We hope you’ll join us to learn more.

Anne C. George, Vice President, Chief External Affairs and Communications Officer at ISO New England.