NYISO Reports Holiday Lighting Adds 750-800 MW to City Energy Consumption

Holiday lighting is expected to add 750-800 megawatts (MW) to the level of electricity used by New Yorkers this season, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) reports.

According to the NYISO, holiday lighting increases electricity use from Thanksgiving through the New Year. The electricity used by holiday lighting is approximately 4% of the New York’s average hourly demand for electricity (18,500 MW).

Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center of New York in 2016. (Photo courtesy of Rockefeller Center)

The statewide impact of holiday lighting is equal to powering up to 800,000 homes. (One megawatt of electricity can serve approximately 800 to 1,000 homes.)

While the amount of electricity used by seasonal displays is sizeable, it dropped significantly as consumers adopted more energy-efficient holiday lights. As recently as 2010, the NYISO estimated the impact of holiday lighting at 1,150 MW. That level has declined to the 800-900 MW range in recent years as LED (Light Emitting Diode) products lessened the power demands from seasonal lighting.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ENERGY STAR certified decorative lights feature LED technology that uses approximately 75% less energy than conventional incandescent lights. The amount of electricity consumed by one 7-watt incandescent bulb could power 140 LEDs.

The NYISO recently reported that New York’s electric system has the capacity to meet the expected demand for electricity through the 2016-17 winter season. Peak demand is forecast to reach 24,445 MW for this winter. Total capacity resources, which include generation, import and demand response, are expected to total 42,968 MW this winter.

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