NERC predicts surge in electric generating capacity by 2010

October 26, 2001 – Today the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) released its Reliability Assessment 2001 – 2010.

“Near-term electric generating capacity adequacy is expected to be satisfactory in North America,” says Michehl R. Gent, President and CEO of NERC. “NERC’s latest ten-year reliability assessment projects that electricity generating capacity margins across North America will increase markedly over the next five years as new merchant generating plants come on line.”

Merchant plant developers have announced plans to construct more than 245,000 MW of new generation by 2005. Although it is unlikely that all of this new capacity will materialize, NERC estimates that about one half of it will be built, resulting in adequate capacity margins in the near term. Longer-term generation adequacy is more difficult to assess due to changes in the way generation is planned, owned, and operated.

If current trends continue, however, long-term margins also should be adequate. According to the report, transmission systems will continue to be subjected to heavy flows and their reliable operation will depend upon continually increasing coordination and cooperation between transmission system operators.

The report projects that very little new transmission will be added during the next decade, other than that necessary to connect new generators or customers to the transmission system. This means that transmission congestion and limitations will likely increase, resulting in greater use of NERC’s transmission loading relief (TLR) procedures.

Although North America’s electric systems are expected to have satisfactory capacity margins overall, the report suggests that there may be isolated areas where problems may occur depending upon weather, generating unit availability, demand growth, and the ability of the transmission systems to move electricity from generating sources to demand centers.

The report also discusses other factors that may affect the long-term reliability of North America’s electricity supply and delivery systems. An Adobe Acrobat PDF file of the 2001-2010 Reliability Assessment is posted at:

A separate file containing only the report graphics in large font may also be downloaded from this site. NERC’s web site also includes information on the electric industry’s electricity supply and delivery programs and activities.

NERC is a not-for-profit company formed as a result of the Northeast blackout in 1965 to promote the reliability of the bulk electric systems that serve North America. It works with all segments of the electric industry as well as customers to “keep the lights on” by developing and encouraging compliance with rules for the reliable operation of these systems. NERC comprises ten Regional Reliability Councils that account for virtually all the electricity supplied in the United States, Canada, and a portion of Baja California Norte, Mexico.

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