According to the North American Electric Reliability Council, the American and Canadian electricity systems are in need of some major improvements if they are to keep up with rising demand.

NERC’s 2006 Long-Term Reliability Assessment Report was released on October 16. It projects U.S. demand for electricity to increase over the next 10 years by 19 percent. In contrast, confirmed capacity will increase by only 6 percent. Capacity margins are projected to drop below minimum target levels in Texas, New England, the mid-Atlantic area, the Midwest and the Rocky Mountain area in the next two to three years. Some time after that, the Northeastern, Southwestern and Western United States will experience similar declines. Western Canada will need new resources as early as 2008.

The existing transmission system is also severely lacking growth in demand and generation. According to the report, total transmission miles are projected to increase by less than 7 percent in the United States and only 3.5 percent in Canada through the year 2015.

The report identifies 22 actions that are necessary to address these inadequacies. They include additional power generation facilities, new and upgraded transmission facilities, stronger contracts and other arrangements for the reliable supply and delivery of fuel to power generation facilities, and more “demand-side” measures such as business and consumer energy-efficiency programs.            EC