New England, California could see tight spots with reliability this summer, says FERC

Dive Brief:

  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s reliability assessment for this summer says that most regions of the country will be able to meet demand this summer.

  • The report, which uses data from the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), did highlight possible concerns in regions such as California, New England and Texas. In particular, restrictions at Southern California Gas' Aliso Canyon storage facility could pose a threat to power reliability this summer in the wake of above-average temperatures. 

  • FERC noted that the total load forecast for the U.S. will be 1.1% higher than last summer and that total generating capacity has increased by 1% since last summer.

Dive Insight:

While power supplies remain overall robust, there are still lingering concerns about the effects of the Aliso Canyon gas leak in Southern California. Natural gas supplies from the facility, the largest in the state, could present problems if California has a hot summer. 

In New England, reserves could become tight because 700 MW of new capacity has been delayed and might not enter service this season. As a result, the ISO New England may need to rely on additional imports and could have to implement changes to operating procedures to maintain reliability.

FERC said the anticipated reserve margin in New England this summer is 14.88%, which is slightly below the reference margin of 15.1%.

The anticipated reserve margin in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas region will likely continue to be tight when compared with other regions. ERCOT expects to have sufficient capacity to serve peak demand this summer but the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Laredo and West Texas have been experiencing localized reliability issues as a result of strong load growth, transmission constraints and limited generation resources.

FERC noted that over 20 GW of new generating capacity is expected to come online this summer with a majority of that capacity coming from renewable energy resources such as wind and solar power.

On the other side of the equation, about 10 GW of capacity has retired since May 2016, including about 4 GW of coal-fired capacity and 6 GW of gas-fired capacity.

The 1,509 MW Moss Landing plant in California, along with the 1,087 MW Willow Glen and 847 MW Michoud plants in Louisiana were the largest gas-fired stations to retire over the past year. The Brayton Point plant in New England also retired in May, removing 1,500 MW of capacity from the region. And in Nebraska, the 478 MW Fort Calhoun nuclear plant retired in October 2016.

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Filed Under: Generation Solar & Renewables Distributed Energy Regulation & Policy