North American electric reliability summer 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The North American bulk power system is expected to have sufficient resources to meet summer electricity demand for 2017, according to the U.S. electric reliability organization NERC.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) is a not-for-profit international regulatory authority whose mission is to assure the reliability of the bulk power system in North America.  Operating under the oversight of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, NERC develops and enforces mandatory reliability standards.

NERC publishes an annual Summer Reliability Assessment.  This document identifies, assesses, and reports on summer resource deficiencies and operating reliability concerns, peak electricity demand and supply changes, and unique regional challenges. In the report, NERC calculates an Anticipated Reserve Margin for each region, based on the difference between anticipated resources' projected capability and forecasted peak load.

According to NERC's 2017 Summer Reliability Assessment, most regions are expected to meet their recommended reference levels for reserve margin -- but New England may have tighter supply conditions, "primarily due to approximately 700MW of delayed new resources that were expected to be available to serve load for this summer."  As NERC noted in its report, "During extreme weather, there is an increasing risk of operational issues when reserve margins are tight. If forecasted summer conditions materialize, New England may need to rely on import capabilities from neighboring areas as well as the possible implementation of emergency operating procedures (EOPs). These actions are anticipated to provide sufficient energy or load relief to cover the forecasted deficiency in operable capacity."

NERC's 2017 Summer Reliability Assessment also examined the solar eclipse anticipated on August 21, finding that it "is not expected to impact the reliability of the bulk power system."  As noted in NERC's assessment, "Total solar capacity (distribution and transmission connected) in the U.S. has increased from 5 MW in 2000 to 42,619 MW in 2016. As the number of photovoltaic generators on the power system increases, the risk created by solar eclipses to reliable system operations will increase as well."

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