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RDI Tallies Gas-Fired Power Growth

RDI Tallies Gas-Fired Power Growth

In a new analysis of power demand growth, Colorado-based Resource Data International (RDI) projects slightly over 186,000 MW of primarily gas-fired electric generating capacity will have to be added by 2010 nationwide to meet burgeoning demand and to replace retiring nuclear and non-nuclear capacity. The cost approaches $90 billion.

That daunting task actually pales in comparison to other recent forecasts. For example at the California Independent Energy Producers annual conference last month in Lake Tahoe, Calpine projected the need for 1 million MW of new generation by 2015 partly to replace 750,000 MW of existing capacity that is a major source of air pollution.

In its "Outlook for Power in the U.S., 1998," RDI offers a relatively conservative estimate of the amount of generating capacity that will be retired over the next 11 years. RDI see a total of 18,000 MW of nuclear and non-nuclear generating capacity being shelved. A total of 4,675 MW of non-nuclear capacity and 13,244 MW of nuclear capacity is expected to be retired.

Six of the 15 NERC regions-Florida Reliability Coordinating Council (FRCC), Mid-America Interconnected Network (MAIN), New England Power Pool (NEPOOL), Northwest Power Area (NWPA), Southeastern Electric Reliability Council (SERC), and the Southwest Power Pool (SPP)- need new generating capacity almost immediately. And by 2004, all the NERC regions will need capacity, RDI said.

"Although merchant power plant developers are currently focusing on only a few regions, most regions will present opportunities within the next few years," RDI said.

According to a separate RDI analysis, total U.S. merchant power plants in operation, under construction or in development currently total 49,462.5 MW, of which 21,000 MW is sited in the New England Power Pool (NEPOOL). Another 9,195 MW of merchant power plant projects are in the Western Systems Coordinating Council (WSCC). The remainder of the merchant plant activity (19,319 MW) is scattered in other parts of the country.

RDI cautioned there is the risk that the market for new capacity in any one region could become "overheated and trigger a boom-bust cycle. Such a cycle could result in power price decreases of as much as 20%." For more information contact Chuck Van Note at RDI's Boulder office, (303) 444-7788.

Theo Mullen

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