Reliability Projections a Mixed Bag

Transmission constraints, rather than generation capacity, are seen as the major hindrance to reliable electricity supplies through this decade, according to the most recent Reliability Assessment, published late last year by the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC), Princeton, N.J. Generating facilities now in the planning stages are expected to create a 20% margin between deman...

06/01/2002


Transmission constraints, rather than generation capacity, are seen as the major hindrance to reliable electricity supplies through this decade, according to the most recent Reliability Assessment , published late last year by the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC), Princeton, N.J. Generating facilities now in the planning stages are expected to create a 20% margin between demand and capacity, according to the report. However, difficulties in getting new transmission lines approved and built, as well as complications arising from deregulation, could create problems in delivering that electricity to customers.

Independent power producers have responded to the opportunities deregulation created by investing in new generating plants. These "merchant" power plants are a big contributor to the anticipated generating-capacity margin. However, because the construction of these plants is driven by local market conditions, rather than by the more centralized planning common when electricity sales were more regulated, there could be regional generation-capacity difficulties, argue the assessment's authors.

The larger problem, though, is the possibility of overtaxing existing transmission capacity. Planners are facing increasing difficulty in getting new transmission lines approved. In the past, as utilities built new generating plants, they also added to their transmission capacity. Under deregulation, utilities have had to separate their generating and transmission assets. New regional transmission organizations (RTOs), created last July by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, are seen as an alternative transmission-planning mechanism. However, the assessment notes, this arrangement leaves a number of questions unanswered, including how accountable RTO officials will be to local governments if transmission problems arise.

Additionally, the rise in merchant plants means a larger number of suppliers are adding electricity to the grid, at their own independent schedules. The difficulty in coordinating that supply was one of the causes behind power problems experienced on the East Coast in the summer of 2000, the report says.

From Pure Power, Summer 2002.





No comments
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
Combined heat and power; Assessing replacement of electrical systems; Energy codes and lighting; Salary Survey; Fan efficiency
Commissioning lighting control systems; 2016 Commissioning Giants; Design high-efficiency hot water systems for hospitals; Evaluating condensation and condensate
Solving HVAC challenges; Thermal comfort criteria; Liquid-immersion cooling; Specifying VRF systems; 2016 Product of the Year winners
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing Arc Flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Putting COPS into context; Designing medium-voltage electrical systems; Planning and designing resilient, efficient data centers; The nine steps of designing generator fuel systems
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.
click me