January 23. 2014 8:45PM

Cold forces PSNH to use aviation-fueled turbines

Union Leader staff

Public Service of New Hampshire fired up its supplemental, aviation-fueled combustion turbines and planned to run them for about 15 hours Thursday to help meet the demand brought on partly by the cold snap.

“That’s unprecedented,” PSNH spokesman Martin Murray said of the duration of the turbine use.

PSNH has never before been asked a day ahead of time by ISO New England to run the stand-alone units to supplement energy load, Murray said.

The units typically operate 10 to 20 hours over the course of a year, usually when demand spikes, such as a cold snap or a heat wave.

Murray said it speaks to the volatility of natural gas and that the region is overly dependent on natural gas.

He pointed to ISO New England charts indicate only 25 percent of natural gas capacity was running Thursday. ISO New England, the “Independent System Operator,” is a nonprofit power pool operator.

It oversees wholesale electricity in the market and works to ensure constant availability of electricity.

Murray said the turbine units are located at PSNH sites in Bow, Groveton and Tamworth.

Each unit generates enough energy to power about 15,000 homes.

In other energy news, PSNH is working on the proposed Northern Pass, a transmission line that would carry 1,200 megawatts from Hydro-Quebec into New Hampshire and the New England market.