NERC Winter Assessment: Electric Supply Adequate, Gas a Concern
The North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) released its 2005/2006 Winter Assessment . The report states that, absent major unforeseen fuel supply or delivery constraints, electricity generating capacity should be adequate to meet the demand for electricity throughout North America this winter.
However, the report notes that a significant amount of natural gas production may not be available this winter to interstate pipelines serving the Atlantic seaboard due to the lingering effects of hurricane damage on the Gulf Coast, and that preparations are under way to address this possibility. While additional delivery or supply curtailments could occur, individual regions do not anticipate significant reliability problems from these fuel supply issues, except for the potential concerns noted by ISO-New England.
“This season’s hurricanes significantly reduced Gulf of Mexico natural gas and oil production and refinement capabilities,” said Rick Sergel, NERC president and CEO. “ERCOT and ISO-New England rely heavily on natural gas for generating electricity, and NERC will monitor these areas closely this winter,” he added. “In areas where gas shortages could affect electricity generation, the regions have assured us that they are putting emergency procedures in place to maintain reliability.”
Utilities have repaired most of the hurricane damage to the bulk electric system, and NERC believes that the transmission system is sufficiently robust to deliver electricity to customers under normal winter conditions. More than 500 miles of new, high-voltage transmission lines are expected to be added this winter. These and a number of other system enhancements identified in the report will help to relieve some constraints on the system. The report also notes that NERC does not expect delays in the delivery of coal from the Powder River Basin to affect fuel supply adequacy unless those delays extend well into 2006.
NERC projects peak demand across North America to be about 15,000 MW greater than last winter, while generating capacity is projected to increase by about 10,000 MW. As a result, the available capacity margins are slightly lower overall compared with last winter, with some regions showing small increases and others showing small decreases in margins. To download the 2005/2006 Winter Assessment , go to: www.nerc.com/~filez/rasreports.html .