On October 20, 2010, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) released its 2010 Long-Term Reliability Assessment. The annual ten-year reliability assessment evaluates the bulk power system, and it identifies new trends and areas of concern.

The 2009 reliability assessment listed five key findings that required further action:

  1. The economic recession and improved demand-management was decreasing demand and increasing reserve margins;
2. The industry will see more renewable energy sources become available;
3. Natural gas was expected to replace coal as the lead fuel source for peak power by 2011;
4. Transmission development must be accelerated to maintain reliability; and
5. The industry as a whole must prepare for transformational changes such as climate change programs and Smart Grid.

The report maintains progress has been made on the 2009 issues, but they are still being addressed. Also, the electric industry has made adequate plans to provide service until 2019. Further, NERC and its subregions have adequately planned for meeting capacity needs for the next ten years. However, some regions such as SERC Reliability Corporation and Texas Reliability Entity are expected to fall slightly below or become “tight” by 2019.

The new 2010 reliability assessment discuses several key issues including:

  1.  The recession which also had an effect in 2009 is decreasing demand, along with new demand-side management, and has led to a decrease in demand projections and an increase in reserve margins;
2.  The next ten years will see a shift in the fuel mix to reflect an increase in gas, solar, wind, and nuclear power;
3.  Vital transmission development is beginning, and that development will include integration of variable generation resources; and
4.  Cross-industry coordination and communication is vital to meeting future operational needs.
NERC stated it is continuing to monitor these industry issues and will continue to issue periodic special assessments.

A copy of the full assessment is available here.