How Reliable is the Electricity Grid in MA?

If you're worried about how well the MA electricity grid handles the heat this summer, don't sweat it. We run through how it works so you can keep your cool.

Can MA Electricity Grid Keep Up

MA's electricity grid is keeping up with high summer energy demand. Learn more how it works to keep the power on in your town.
Do the hot summer temps and high AC usage make you fear for the MA electricity grid? Learn more about how it works to keep the power flowing to your home even on the hottest New England days.

This year’s hot summer pushes more homes to fire up their AC units. Though some worry about their Massachusetts electric rates, some customers wonder if the grid can take the strain. This big demand for more energy makes it hard to keep the MA grid working. As it turns out, things may not be as bad as you think. So, let’s look at just how reliable the MA electricity grid is.

How MA Electricity Grid Works

The ISO-NE plans and runs the MA grid. They are part of the Eastern Interconnection, a huge power grid that covers much of the US and Canada. This grid works by moving power from a variety of power plants and transmitting it to where it’s needed.

power plant generates electricity to sell to customers on the grid. The electricity enters the grid as a “load” and goes to a substation. Here, transformers raise its voltage then send it through high voltage power lines, often for hundreds of miles. The energy travels along until it arrives at its destination. The load then enters a substation where transformers lower its voltage to send it safely through the local grid. From there, the power flows on to homes and businesses.

Potential MA Grid Problems

Grids can fail due to a series of problems. For example, in August, 2003, a high tension power line sagged onto some trees in northern Ohio. The line shorted and shut down. The detected fault should have tripped an alarm with the transmission company. But a software bug silenced it. Ultimately, this one fault led to a series of cascading failures in other transmission lines which also shut down. The resulting blackout hit several states and parts of Canada. 

Luckily, these are rare and preventable events. However, load imbalances pose the most common problems.

The power grid works by balancing a power frequency as close to 60 megahertz as possible. This balance is based on energy supply and demand. If there’s more demand than supply, the frequency rate can fall. If the frequency falls too low, generators on the grid can become unstable. To prevent this, power plants will automatically switch off. This leads to blackouts. If there’s more supply than demand, power plants will shut down to prevent overloading power lines and wasting fuel.

Thankfully, ISO-NE has plans in motion to deal with problems as they come. Last December, power plants switched to oil when there wasn’t enough natural gas to make power. The ISO-NE checks the grid every 10 minutes to catch problems early. ISO-NE may ask the public to conserve energy in order to avoid rolling blackouts. Finally, back up power plants are ready to generate extra power if needed.

How MA Customers Save Money

In short, the MA electric grid is reliable. But while MA may have stable energy, it also has some of the worst energy prices. in the country. But you can cut costs if you shop now for better electric rates. For example, Eversource customers could save up to 14% on supply charges by switching now. And cheap long-term rates can save you a lot more if basic service rates rise in January.

You can also find other energy-saving tips and tricks by checking out

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