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The total eclipse will affect solar power generation. The New England grid says it's prepared

Rows of solar panels sit at Orsted's Eleven Mile Solar Center lithium-ion battery storage energy facility Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, in Coolidge, Ariz.
Ross D. Franklin
/
AP
Rows of solar panels sit at Orsted's Eleven Mile Solar Center lithium-ion battery storage energy facility Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, in Coolidge, Ariz.

One group of people who will be tracking the April 8 solar eclipse will be the operators of the region's electric grid.

On any bright, sunny April day, as much as half of New England's electricity now comes from solar panels.

"We deal with solar going away every evening," says Jon Gravelin, the manager of control room operations for grid operator ISO-New England, but "the eclipse presents an unusual challenge."

Mike Knowland, ISO-New England's manager of operations, forecast and scheduling, says it's a challenge the grid operators have been able to practice for.

"We know, with 100% certainty, where the moon is going to be and what time the eclipse is going to start, and what time it's gonna peak, and what time it's going to end," he says.

Knowland says, if needed, the grid operator will probably first ask generating plants already online to produce more power. But there are also power plants "on standby" that can be ordered to start up, if needed, to meet demand.

The impact the eclipse has on the power grid operators will also depend on the weather. Knowland says a sunny day will have a significant impact. But, if it's cloudy, the region's power grid will be using electricity from other sources anyway.