Study: North America has enough reserve margins for winter

Washington, D.C., December 1, 2010 – The outlook for planning reserve margins in North America is sufficient to meet winter peak demands, according to a report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation.

The report – 2010/2011 Winter Reliability Assessment – projects that the anticipated planning reserve margin will increase from 32.5 percent last year to 47 percent this year.

“Based on the projected data, information and self-assessments provided by each of the regional entities, planning reserve margins appear to be adequate and sufficient preparations have been made for the upcoming winter to maintain bulk power system reliability,” said Mark Lauby, director of reliability assessment and performance analysis. “NERC completes a reliability assessment each year highlighting industry preparations to maintain bulk power system reliability throughout the summer and winter seasons.”

Some highlights from the assessment include:

* Peak Demand Increase, Reserve Margins Remain Adequate. Peak demand for the 2010/2011 winter season has risen 0.6 percent compared to last year due to a projected slight economic recovery – with planning reserve margins remaining adequate in the U.S. and Canada.

From a regional perspective, NPCC-Quebec and WECC-Northwest Power Pool are projected to be near the NERC Reference Margin Level. However, both subregions appear to have sufficient resources to maintain reliability.

* Long-Term Weather Forecast Predicts an Average 2010/2011 Winter. The 2010/2011 winter temperature and precipitation forecast shows North America is expected to experience an average winter. The February 2011 forecast is expected to be higher than average precipitation and lower than average temperatures.

* Operational Challenges are Manageable through the 2010/2011 Winter. Overall operational conditions, including variable resource operations, are not expected to affect the bulk power system reliability this winter. All regions have operational strategies and procedures in place to mitigate potential reliability issues that may arise.

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