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withdrawn over the course of the winter.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
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