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NERC Predicts Smooth Sailing This Winter

NERC Predicts Smooth Sailing This Winter

With 5,900 MW of new mostly gas-fired generation capacity coming online this winter across the United States, the North American Electric Reliability Council concluded in its latest Winter Assessment that "electric resources will be adequate" to meet projected electricity demand.

Peak demand is expected to be 3% higher than actual demand last winter mainly because of the return of normal temperatures.

Despite low reservoir levels in some locations, hydroelectric supply is expected to be capable of meeting peaking needs. In addition, NERC said it believes gas supply will be "adequate" to handle strong residential, commercial and industrial demand while continuing to serve power generators.

NERC said gas production has increased 5% since last June, drilling has doubled in the past year and gas storage levels although lower than average still exceed the amount historically withdrawn over the course of the winter. Of the total amount of gas demand, 28% is related to the production of electricity.

"The gas industry expects to fulfill all firm contracts this winter. It should be noted [however] that electric power suppliers typically do not have firm contracts for their gas supply," NERC added in its report.

Generation reserve margins appear adequate at between 27% and 30% for December, January and February. However, some regions clearly are better prepared than others are. New York apparently is the least prepared with the lowest reserve margins (dropping to 9.4% in February) of any NERC region or sub-region. ERCOT and SPP are set up with the highest reserve margins, which are consistently above 35%. For a regional breakdown, see a copy of the NERC report site: ftp://www.nerc.com/pub/sys/all_updl/docs/pubs/winter2000.pdf

Rocco Canonica

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