Electricity demand in the Northeast and parts of Eastern Canada this summer is projected to be roughly in line with 2020, with adequate capacity margins and sufficient transmission capability to meet needs, according to a regional power coordinator.

In its 2021 reliability assessment, the Northeast Power Coordinating Council Inc. (NPCC) said the summer peak for the combined region is forecast to be around 104,000 MW. The NPCC region includes New York, the six New England states, as well as Ontario, Québec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

About 161,200 MW of installed supply capacity is expected to be in place to meet summer demand. Spare operable capacity over and above reserve requirements is “substantial,” according to NPCC. Its projections range from 9,800 MW to 25,000 MW.

“Moreover, the winter peaking Québec and Canadian maritime provinces are expected to meet forecasted electricity demand by a wide margin, enabling those areas to transfer surplus electricity supplies to other areas of the region if needed,” NPCC said.

Widespread and prolonged heat waves with high humidity and temperatures remain the primary drivers of summer system demand, according to the council. Its reliability assessment considered a wide range of conditions, including forecast demand uncertainty, unexpected generator plant outages and transmission constraints between regions and within NPCC. The assessment also took into account the implementation of operating procedures, the estimated impact of demand response programs and additional capacity unavailability coupled with reduced transfer capabilities.

“In addition to adequate resources and sufficient transmission capability, the assessment indicates that, if called upon, established operating procedures can provide additional support to help keep the system up and running by maintaining a balance between electricity supply and demand,” said NPCC CEO Charles Dickerson.

As part of its efforts in assessing reliability and monitoring and enforcing regionally specific reliability criteria, NPCC plans to continue to manage the international electricity system impacts of Covid-19. Its pandemic response plan is to remain in place throughout the summer, which includes communications with regional and neighboring areas to discuss the latest impacts and coordinate entity response efforts.

Neither the New York Independent System Operator (ISO) nor the New England ISO have yet issued summer assessments. Earlier this month, the power grid operator for most of Texas, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said there is more than enough capacity to meet what is projected to be record summer demand.

In its Summer Electricity Outlook, released as a supplement to the May Short-Term Energy Outlook, the Energy Information Administration said it forecasts retail sales of electricity to be  1.5% higher than last summer. Much of this growth occurs in the commercial and industrial sectors and reflects an improving economy after the pandemic-related downturn in 2020.Natural gas-fired generation is expected to total 420 billion kWh for June, July and August, representing 37% of total U.S. electricity generated this summer, according to the agency. Last summer, natural gas-fired generation accounted for 42% of total domestic electricity generation.