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In addition, capacity margins are projected to drop below minimum target levels in Texas, New England, the Mid-Atlantic area, the Midwest, and the Rocky Mountain area, in the next two to three years, with other portions of the Northeastern U.S., Southwest, and Western U.S. falling below minimum target levels later in the period.
“Our economy and quality of life are more reliant on electricity every day, yet the operation and planning for a reliable and adequate electricity system is becoming increasingly difficult,” says Rick Sergel, president and CEO of the National Electric Reliability Council (NERC). “These convergent trends require industry and government to work together to adopt a longer-term, more coordinated planning strategy. This report is intended to provide a factual basis for implementing such a strategy.”
The report issued by NERC identifies 22 necessary actions that encompass all areas of the bulk power system including generation, transmission, fuel supply and delivery, and demand response.
The transmission system requires additional investment to address reliability issues and economic impacts, says Sergel. Expansion and strengthening of the transmission system continues to lag demand growth and expansion of generating resources in most areas. Total transmission miles are projected to increase by less than 7 percent in the U.S. and by only 3.5 percent in Canada through 2015, according to NERC.
Specific recommended actions in the report include:
- Addition of power generation facilities
- New and upgraded transmission facilities
- Stronger contracts and other arrangements for the reliable supply and delivery of fuel to power generation facilities
- More “demand-side” measures such as business and consumer energy-efficiency programs
- Addressing aging workforce issues in the electric industry
The adequacy of electricity supplies depends, in part, on the reliability of fuel supply and delivery systems, not just the installed capacity of generators, says Sergel. Gas-fired generating capacity additions are projected to account for almost half of the resource additions over the 2006– 2015 period, with coal accounting for the other half. Strengthening coal and gas delivery infrastructures, and firming up gas supply and delivery contracts, will reduce the potential for shortages in electricity due to fuel disruptions, according to NERC.
As the Electric Reliability Organization (ERO) for the United States, NERC’s mission is to improve the reliability and security of the bulk power system in North America. To achieve that, NERC develops and enforces reliability standards; monitors the bulk power system; assesses future adequacy; audits owners, operators, and users for preparedness; and educates and trains industry personnel. NERC is a self-regulatory organization that relies on the diverse and collective expertise of industry participants.