Regional assessment of potential electricity supply problems this summer

Jul 05, 2000 02:00 AM

A regional assessment of potential electricity supply problems this summer in New England, New York, Southeast Mid-Atlantic, Area Midwest, North-Central, South-Central, California Southwest, Northwest and Rocky Mountains by the North American Electric Reliability Council, an industry group that monitors the nation's power grid, shows that it may not be possible to maintain required reserve during peak demands, requiring possible cutback in uses by some commercial customers.
The New England-New York region has 1,000 MW of additional generating capacity this summer, but that is partly offset by growth in demand and, in New York, the shutdown of the 930-MW Indian Point nuclear power plant. Peak demand is expected to be 3 % higher this year than last summer in New England, and slightly lower than last year in New York.
No major problems are expected. Supply is much better this year with new power plants providing 10,000 MW of new capacity in the region this summer. No serious supply problems are anticipated. Additional power, destined to be sold outside the region, could be available in case of a regional shortage. Demand in south-east is below last year, while supplies are improved.
The area has 1,314 MW of additional capacity compared to last summer when the region was hit by power outages, prompted by wholesale electric grid transmission problems, now believed resolved. Peak demand was expected to be below last summer, while generating capacity has increased. The area is expected to have sufficient generating capacity to meet peak demand, assuming normal summer weather, but could have supply problems with extremely hot weather.

The east-central area including Ohio Valley is expected to have higher peak demand this year than last summer, but also has greater capacity than last summer. Abnormally hot, humid weather, or unexpected problems in generation could require some commercial customers to reduce demand, especially if power can't be purchased from outside the region.
There is an improved supply picture in Illinois, eastern Wisconsin and eastern Missouri, compared to last summer when this area had problems. All nuclear generation is expected to be available this summer and more than 3,000 MW of additional capacity from new gas-fired plants. The utility in the Chicago area has an improved distribution system that caused problems last summer.
Peak demand is expected to be 4 % greater than last summer and only modest increases in new generation (80 MW) . Still, the area is not expected to have power disruptions.
More than 5,000 MW of new generating capacity in Texas is expected to provide enough electricity to meet demand. The demand is expected to be only slightly more than last year when the summer had above average temperatures. Transmission systems are expected to meet demand. Severe drought conditions could cause a problem with some generation because of a lack of cooling water at power plants. But utilities report that contingency plans are in place to deal with this problem.

Oklahoma-Kansas area is expected to have continued annual peak demand growth of about 2 % a year and modest generating capacity increases. Safety margin for the peak month of August is under 11 %, below minimum. Some supply concerns would exist if the summer is especially hot and some unexpected generation problems develop.
California already has had rolling blackouts in the San Francisco Bay area and state-wide calls for curtailing power by commercial customers because of supply problems. State's safety margin dropped to below 5 % of capacity on three days during especially hot weather and reduction in availability of electricity from outside the state.
The Western region is widely interconnected and problems in one area can affect another. The region may need to make further public appeals this summer for customers to reduce electricity consumption, especially if temperatures remain unusually high as has been the case.

New Mexico, Arizona, southern Nevada and California may not have adequate resources to meet needs in event of a widespread severe heat wave or greater than normal problems at power plants. Utilities may not be able to serve all peak demands, resulting in rolling blackouts.
The Northwest has adequate supplies even with unusually severe summer temperatures as were recently experienced. But the region may have to curtail shipments of electricity outside the region, mainly to California. Such shipments were halted after problems developed with several generating plants, including Washington state's only nuclear power plant, when temperatures reached the 90s. The region normally exports electricity and should not have problems meeting regional needs, however.
Power supplies are expected to be adequate in the Rocky Mountain area. It is projected to have 16 % capacity margin, which is above national average. Transmission systems and reserves are adequate to meet peak summer needs.

Source: AP
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