19 November 2004 – NERC released its 2004/2005 Winter Assessment today. “Generating and transmission resources will be adequate to meet the demand for electricity throughout North America this winter,” said Michehl R. Gent, NERC President and CEO. “We have not identified any significant areas of concern for grid reliability for the upcoming season,” he added, “and if all entities comply with NERC reliability standards, there should be no uncontrolled blackouts.”
New generating resources have been added in several NERC regions since last winter; however, generating capacity margins are somewhat lower than those projected for last winter in other regions. Peak demand in North America is projected to be 1.8 percent higher than that projected for last winter on a weather-normalized basis, but 2.7 per cent higher than last year’s actual.
Transmission systems are expected to perform reliably this winter. However, market conditions can cause large and widely varying flows that create congestion on parts of the grid. If these conditions occur this winter, congestion management procedures will need to be invoked to maintain grid reliability.
Fuel supplies, inventories, and deliveries are also expected to be adequate. Recent fluctuations in wholesale gas prices may result in variations in generation dispatch patterns that would change transmission-loading patterns. The potential for curtailment of natural gas supplies for electric generation during periods of cold weather could present problems in some areas, particularly in ERCOT and New England.
The report cautions that coincident failures of critical equipment, while highly improbable, may result in a degradation of bulk electric system reliability. Emergency action plans and procedures to safeguard the system under emergency conditions should minimize this possibility. Mr. Gent underscored the continuing need for system operators to communicate and coordinate their actions to preserve the continued reliability of the bulk electric transmission system. “Adequate system reliability will be maintained if identified transmission limitations are adhered to and operating procedures are implemented as required,” he stressed. The report is posted at http://www.nerc.com.