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New England power generators replenish oil reserves after winter storm

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NEW YORK — New England electricity generators are replenishing oil reserves after the region’s power system was forced burn about 31.5 million gallons during recent harsh winter weather that led to widespread outages, the grid operator said on Thursday.

About 20 million gallons of fuel oil has been replaced, and another eight million gallons are on the way to the area, said ISO New England spokesman Matt Kakley, citing a survey of generators.

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“Once those deliveries are complete, we’d expect to supplies to be roughly where they were entering the winter,” said Kakley, who added the ISO is projecting normal operations over the next three weeks.

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The share of fuel oil used in New England’s power generation mix surged to roughly 30% during the storm over the Christmas holiday weekend. The region typically relies on natural gas, nuclear and renewables to produce electricity, and in 2021, fuel oil made up less than 1% of that mix.

New England was the worst-hit U.S. region with power outages during the frigid weather, with more than 150,000 blackouts in the state of Maine alone during the period.

The outages were due in part to the failure of generators that are paid by the grid operator a retainer to jump in and produce electricity in times of peak demand, ISO New England said in a release this week.

During the storm, whose peak impact on the region came on Dec. 24, some pay-to-perform generators were unable to deliver on their agreement, the ISO said. Those underperformers now face penalties at a rate of $3,500 per megawatt-hour, totaling about $39 million.

Over-performing generators will receive $3,500 per megawatt-hour in additional pay, ISO New England said.

The names of power providers were not disclosed. (Reporting by Laila Kearney Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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