Tags: Power | Shortages | Forecast | This | Summer

No Power Shortages Forecast This Summer

Wednesday, 15 May 2002 12:00 AM

North American Electric Reliability Council said in its annual "Summer Assessment" that despite potential transmission bottlenecks, the nation could probably depend on making it through the anticipated surge in power demand during the summer.

"We expect that generating resources will be adequate to meet projected demand for electricity in North America this summer," said Michehl R. Gent, president of the organization that oversees the reliability of the U.S. power grid.

NERC predicted that peak demand this summer would be about 0.4 percent above the projected peak in 2001 and 2.7 percent above the actual peak demand last year.

"The relatively flat growth in the projection for this summer compared to 2001 is reflective of the slowdown in the North American economy," the report said. "To put this growth rate in perspective, the historical average annual demand growth for the last 10 years has been about 2.5 percent."

NERC said that comparing the projected 2002 demand to the 2001 numbers was not as accurate because it took into account the weather last summer, which was on the cool side.

Though demand growth should be relatively flat, NERC found that "significant amounts of new generating resources have been added in several regions since last summer."

Significant increases in power-generating capacity were added in previous areas of concern such as California, where demand is down and 5,000 megawatts (MW) of new generation has been added on the supply side; New York City and Long Island have increased their capacity by 450 MW.

"Despite recent announcements that planned new generators will be delayed or canceled, those previously planned to be in service this summer are still on schedule and are expected to be available to serve peak demand," NERC said.

The Pacific Northwest hydroelectric picture is expected to improve after last summer's drought, but some new potential trouble spots have cropped up, primarily in the booming southern Nevada and Arizona area, and also on the other side of the country in southwestern Connecticut.

The problems of the two regions differ, according to NERC. Connecticut is seen as having ample supply but potentially strained transmission capabilities. Nevada and Arizona, however, appear to have enough transmission capacity to handle heavy loads, but there may be problems obtaining additional supplies at times when the temperatures in Phoenix and especially Las Vegas soar into the sultry triple digits.

"Adequate transmission capability exists to permit electricity imports into southern Nevada, but if the electricity purchases are not available, this area will be especially susceptible to customer curtailments [blackouts] associated with higher than normal equipment failures or extreme weather," NERC said.

Nevada's difficulties have been compounded by this spring's decision by state regulators to disallow $437 million of a requested rate increase by Nevada Power to cover higher power prices during the electricity crisis that was centered on neighboring California but affected border states as well.

The decision came about the same time that bankrupt Enron ended power deliveries to Nevada, which left Nevada Power's parent company, Sierra Pacific Resources, scrambling to come up with a payment plan for its suppliers before summer demands.

"With the continued cooperation of power suppliers, we should have adequate power and cash to meet our customers' needs through the peak power season," Sierra Pacific CEO Walt Higgins said earlier this month. "We are presently current with all of our vendors, and we expect to be able to meet our obligations to suppliers who work with us. Those suppliers who choose not to work with us, however, may have to wait longer for payment."

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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North American Electric Reliability Council said in its annual Summer Assessment that despite potential transmission bottlenecks, the nation could probably depend on making it through the anticipated surge in power demand during the summer. We expect that generating...
Wednesday, 15 May 2002 12:00 AM
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