If merchant plant developers follow through on their plans to expand electrical generation over the next five years, the nation’s capacity to meet energy demands should remain adequate, according to a new report released by the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC). Although electricity demand is expected to grow by about 63,800 MW over that period, the construction of resource additions totaling between 138,000 MW and 245,000 MW is anticipated.

NERC’s Reliability Assessment 2001-2010 study bases most of its predictions on the announced plans for construction of merchant plants, but even if only half of the projects are completed, the council estimates capacity margins will be adequate in the near term.

However, NERC is less willing to take a firm stance on the long-term (2006–2010) status of energy capacity. The study predicts resource adequacy will be satisfactory if current conditions continue, merchant power plant developers will need to continue to react to market signals and construct new generating facilities in areas experiencing declining capacity margins.

The complete study is available in Adobe Acrobat format at www.nerc.com/~filez/rasreports.html.