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NERC predicts bulk power system resources adequate to meet summer demand

North America is expected to have enough bulk power system resources to meet electricity demand for the upcoming summer, according to a recent report.

In its "2017 Summer Reliability Assessment," the North American Electric Reliability Corp. said most regions are expected to have plenty of capacity to meet their reserve requirements, with the exception of ISO New England. That region's anticipated reserve margin is predicted to fall to 14.88%, which is below its reference margin level of 15.10% for the summer, the report said. NERC said the projected shortfall is mainly because around 700 MW of new resources that were expected to be online in time to serve summer load have been delayed.

"During extreme weather, there is an increasing risk of operational issues when reserve margins are tight," the report said. "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." Those actions likely would provide enough energy or load relief to fill the projected gap in operable capacity, NERC said.

Issues with the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in Southern California are not expected to influence reliability during the summer months because of a predicted abundance of hydroelectric generation in the state, which the California ISO plans to leverage to alleviate any natural gas constraints, NERC said. A leaking well at the gas storage complex was permanently sealed February 2016.

NERC also noted that considerable increases in rainfall and snowpack levels "have essentially removed most drought conditions from the state," but warned that snowpack runoff combined with high levels of solar power generation during summer afternoons could create hours with an oversupply of electric energy. "California currently operates through oversupply conditions during most afternoon hours and this combination of system conditions would increase the amount of over-supply the state creates," the report said. NERC said the situation would be monitored to alleviate any potential risk to reliability.

Reliability is expected to be maintained in the Midcontinent ISO's operating area this summer, but the report also pointed out that a greater amount of MISO's reserves are made up of demand response resources compared to last season. While that increases the likelihood operators will need to utilize those resources during emergencies, NERC said it presents no threat to reliability because all demand response resources are expected to perform if needed.

Additionally, a solar eclipse predicted for Aug. 21 is not likely to have an impact on the reliability of the bulk power system, according to NERC.