That’s “Utility Panic Propaganda Piece WGTFITDOARWAJ” and we’ve heard it before… sigh…But our electrical grid is not broken the way they’d like us to believe, yet it’s assuredly cracked and can’t be fixed. That is, it can’t be fixed with more transmission and more central-station generation! But we can indeed fix it in a way we can live with. It’s our job to do that. But folks, you have to actually look at the report, read it, CAREFULLY, and take in what it says, and note what is missing (hint: new generation).

The NERC 2006 Long-Term Reliability Assessment is out, the report that comes out this time every year. Light years ago, up in Duluth on a transmission case, an engineer in the know handed me a copy of the NERC 1999 Long-Term Reliability Assessment as if it were the Holy Grail, “Here, you need this,” and I took that very seriously and read it. Since then, I’ve used each years’ version, entered it in every proceeding, every time I testify about whatever, because this industry report shows that we do not need electricity the way utilities would have us believe. So what does that mean? What am I basing that on?

Check this map about new generation:


Note the 17% for Minnesota, and 39% for Wisconsin. The capacity margins for MRO (which we know affectionately as MAPP) are way more than adequate, sometimes twice over. The 2005 report states specifically:


The MRO tracks annual electricity use by both region and subregion:

â?¢ Annual electricity usage for the entire MRO region in 2004 (195,528 GWh) was 0.6% above 2003 consumption (194,286 GWh) and 3.0% below the 2004 forecast (201,605 GWh).

â?¢ Annual electricity usage for MRO-U.S. in 2004 (154,053 GWh) was 1.1% above 2003 consumption (152,310 GWh) and 3.7% below the 2004 forecast (159,932 GWh).

â?¢ Annual electricity usage for MRO-Canada in 2004 (41,475 GWh) was 2.7% above 2003 consumption (40,369 GWh) and 0.5% below the 2004 forecast (41,673 GWh).

2005 NERC Long-Term Reliability Assessment, p. 57. Go figure, for some odd reason, in the 2006 NERC report, they do not include that graphic little map, nor do they address the overstatement of utility “need” as specifically or accessibly as they do above. There is not one reference to the MISO queue which has so many thousands of megawatts of generation at various stages of development waiting in line to be interconnected. To find the real poop, you’ve got to really be looking for it. And when it’s hard to find, having to read between the lines, why, we end up with articles like this in the NY Times, and if it’s in the times, it has to be true, eh? GRRRRRR Let’s see, how can we interpret overestimation of need and how can we fail to consider and include thousands of megawatts of new generation? Here’s what happens when a non-critical reader and writer lets loose — what we get is a creative take on it that distorts the reality of our secure and reliable grid, one meant to generate fear rather than convey the content of the report:

A Power Grid Report Suggests Some Dark Days Ahead


WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 â?? Companies are not building power plants and power lines fast enough to meet growing demand, according to a group recently assigned by the federal government to assure proper operation of the power grid.

The group, the North American Electric Reliability Council, in its annual report, to be released Monday, said the amount of power that could be generated or transmitted would drop below the target levels meant to ensure reliability on peak days in Texas, New England, the Mid-Atlantic area and the Midwest during the next two to three years.

The council was established in 1965 after a blackout across the Northeast, and has since set voluntary standards for the industry. After the blackout of 2003, which covered a vast swath of the Midwest, Northeast and Ontario, Congress set up a process that would eventually give the council the authority to fine American companies that did not follow certain operating standards. It is seeking a similar designation in Canada, since â?? electrically speaking â?? the border is irrelevant.

For years, the council has produced often-gloomy annual reports, but this is the first to be officially filed with federal agencies, and to recommend specific action.

The report says, for example, that utilities should be encouraged to pursue financial incentives for customers to cut use during peak hours, thereby lowering demand for new power plants and transmission lines. Financial incentives could reward customersâ?? installation of more efficient equipment or, more drastically, reward a factory for closing on a day when electricity supplies are expected to be tight.

The president of the council, Rick P. Sergel, said in a telephone interview, â??The situation has existed for a long time, but we cannot let it continue.â?

Planning for adequate capacity has become more difficult with the restructuring of the electric industry. Where a handful of top-to-bottom companies once generated power, transmitted it and delivered it, hundreds of companies are now involved in only one or two phases of the process. At the same time, getting permits to build new power lines has become more difficult.

The actual balance between supply and demand depends in part on changes in technology. Grid operators can now push more power through existing lines, plant operators have found ways to make generators more reliable and sharp increases in the efficiency of how electricity is used could slow demand.

The report predicts that demand will increase by about 19 percent over the next 10 years in the United States, and slightly less in Canada, and that the construction of power plants and transmission lines to carry that load will fall far short of what is needed. In this country, utilities have contracts with new power plants for only about a third of the capacity that will be needed; in Canada, the number is about two-thirds.

The number of miles of transmission lines, which can help redistribute supplies, will increase by only about 7 percent, the report said.

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