NERC issued its 2003 −2012 Reliability Assessment today. “Generating resources are expected to be adequate throughout North America in the near term,” stated Michehl R. Gent, NERC president and CEO. “Although long-term resource adequacy is more difficult to assess, we expect it to be satisfactory if current trends continue,” he added.

In the wake of the Aug. 14 blackout and the ongoing investigation into its underlying causes, Gent stressed that “industry participants will need to effectively communicate and coordinate their actions to ensure reliability of the bulk electric transmission system.” Expressing concern over the failure of Congress to enact reliability legislation this year, Gent observed “it is more important than ever that NERC’s reliability rules are followed by all if we are to prevent future blackouts.”

Transmission systems in North America are expected to perform reliably in the near term, although the report notes that in some areas these systems are reaching their reliability limits. Previously seen transmission constraints are recurring, while new constraints are appearing as electricity flow patterns change, the report states. The assessment points out that transmission expansion is not keeping up with expansion of generation and growth of demand, and notes that some portions of the grid will not be able to transmit the output of all new generating units to their targeted markets.

Electricity demand is expected to grow by about 67,000 MW during the next five years, and resource additions over this period are projected to total about 89,000 MW, depending upon the number of new plants assumed to be in service. Although overall resource levels appear adequate, generation additions and resulting capacity margins are not evenly distributed across North America. The report cites a number of factors that will influence resource adequacy in the longer term.

The assessment discusses a number of issues that have the potential to affect reliability. These include ensuring supply adequacy in a competitive environment, the expected pace of transmission investment, emerging technical concerns, increasing dependency on natural gas for electric generation, and transmission planning. Click here to download a copy of the report.