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Power Problems By Region

Here is a regional assessment of potential electricity supply problems this summer. It was compiled by the North American Electric Reliability Council, an industry group that monitors the nation's power grid:

New England-New York

    May not be able to maintain required reserve during peak demands, requiring possible cutback in uses by some commercial customers. Region has 1,000 megawatts of additional generating capacity this summer, but that is partly offset by growth in demand and, in New York, the shutdown of the 930-megawatt Indian Point nuclear power plant. Peak demand expected to be 3 percent higher this year than last summer in New England, and slightly lower than last year in New York.


    No major problems expected. Supply is much better this year with new power plants providing 10,000 megawatts of new capacity in the region this summer. No serious supply problems anticipated. Additional power, destined to be sold outside the region, could be available in case of a regional shortage. Demand in southeast below last year, while supplies are improved.

Mid-Atlantic Area

    Area has 1,314 megawatts of additional capacity compared to last summer when the region was hit by power outages, prompted by wholesale electric grid transmission problems, now believed resolved. Peak demand expected to be below last summer, while generating capacity has increased. Area expected to have sufficient generating capacity to meet peak demand, assuming normal summer weather, but could have supply problems with extremely hot weather.


    The east-central area including Ohio Valley expected to have higher peak demand this year than last summer, but also has greater capacity than last summer. Abnormally hot, humid weather, or unexpected problems in generation could require some commercial customers to reduce demand, especially if power can't be purchased from outside the region.

    Improved supply picture in Illinois, eastern Wisconsin and eastern Missouri, compared to last summer when this area had problems. All nuclear generation expected to be available this summer. More than 3,000 megawatts of additional capacity from new gas-fired plants. Utility in Chicago area has improved distribution system that caused problems last summer.


    Peak demand expected to be 4 percent greater than last summer. Only modest increases in new generation (80 megawatts). Still, area is not expected to have power disruptions.


    More than 5,000 megawatts of new generating capacity in Texas is expected to provide enough electricity to meet demand. Demand expected to be only slightly more than last year when the summer had above average temperatures. Transmission systems are expected to meet demand. Severe drought conditions could cause a problem with some generation because of a lak cooling water at power plants. But utilities report contingency plans in place to deal with this problem.

    Oklahoma-Kansas area expected to have continued annual peak demand growth of about 2 percent a year and modest generating capacity increases. Safety margin for the peak month of August under 11 percent, below minimum. Some supply concerns if summer is especially hot and some unexpected generation problems develop.


    California already has had rolling blackouts in San Francisco Bay area and statewide calls for curtailing power by commercial customers because of supply problems. State's safety margin dropped to below 5 percent of capacity on three days last week during especially hot weather and reduction in availability of electricity from outside the state.

    Western region is widely interconnected and problems in one area can affect another. The region may need to make further public appeals this summer for customers to reduce electricity consumption, especially if temperatures remain unusually high as has been the case in recent weeks.

    New Mexico, Arizona, southern Nevada and California may not have adequate resources to meet needs in event of a widespread severe heat wave or greater than normal problems at power plants. Utilities may not be able to serve all peak demands, resulting in rolling blackouts.

Northwest-Rocky Mountains

    The Northwest has adequate supplies even with unusually severe summer temperatures as were recently experienced. But region may have to curtail shipments of electricity outside region, mainly to California. Such shipments were halted after problems developed with several generating plants, including Washington state's only nuclear power plant, earlier this month when temperatures reached the 90s.

    The region normally exports electricity and should not have problems meeting regional needs, however.

    Power supplies are expected to be adequate in the Rocky Mountain area. It is projected to have 16 percent capacity margin, which is above national average. Transmission systems and reserves are adequate to meet peak summer needs.

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