The North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) has issued its 2004 Long-Term Reliability Assessment. The report assesses long-term electricity supply and demand and transmission reliability through 2013, and discusses key issues and trends affecting the reliability of future electric supply and transmission systems.

“Resource adequacy is expected to be satisfactory throughout North America, provided new generating facilities are constructed as anticipated and NERC reliability rules are followed,” said Michehl R. Gent, NERC president and CEO. “NERC and the electric industry have taken significant steps to improve the reliability of the electric system since the Aug. 14 blackout, and we are confident that we have a stronger system today and going forward than we did last summer” he added.

According to the report, electricity demand is expected to grow by about 69,000 MW over the next five years. Projected resource additions over this same period total about 67,300 MW, depending upon the number of merchant plants assumed to be in service. Resource adequacy in the longer term is more uncertain, but is expected to be satisfactory if current trends continue.

More than 10,275 miles of new transmission are proposed to be added over the 2004–2013 timeframe. This represents a 4.9% increase in the total amount of installed transmission in North America over the assessment period. Although the transmission system is expected to operate reliably throughout North America, some portions of the grid will not be able to support all desired electricity market transactions. Some well-known transmission constraints are recurring, while new constraints appear as electricity flow patterns change. Reliability coordinators, transmission planners, and system operators will need to regularly communicate and coordinate their actions to preserve the reliability of the bulk electric transmission system.

Most NERC regions do not anticipate any problems with fuel supplies for the assessment period. However, the industry’s growing dependence upon natural gas as a primary fuel for new power plants is noted as an emerging area of concern. The ten-year assessment is available at: www.nerc.com/~filez/rasreports.html.