What next? That seems to be the question on every utility executive's mind. After two years of stomach-wrenching ratings downgrades, agonizing downward...
Regional Summer Assessments. The North American Electric Reliability Council was set to release its annual summer reliability assessment on May 22, after this issue went to press, but in the meantime, many other regional reliability councils and independent system operators had already issued summer forecasts for generation adequacy and system reliability.
- New York ISO. Forecasted a peak demand of 30,200 megawatts, representing an increase of 1.7 percent over 1999. It said it had completed a successful auction in the installed capacity market to secure enough generation to satisfy the reserve requirement (18 percent above demand) of 35,636 MW set by the New York State Reliability Council.
- ISO New England. Forecasted summer peak demand at 23,250 MW, compared to last year's peak of 22,544 MW, set July 6. Citing new plants coming online, plus favorable nuclear availability, it predicted "an overall improvement" over the last few summers.
- California ISO. Warned of "slim" power reserves, predicting (with normal weather) a summer peak load on the ISO-controlled grid of 46,250 MW (representing 37,950 MW of internal generation and 8,400 MW of imported power), compared to a 1999 peak of 45,884 MW.
- MAIN. Predicted "improved electric reliability" in the Midwest this summer, in light of some 3,000 MW in new generating capacity expected to be online before the high season arrived. MAIN anticipated a summer noncoincident peak demand of 49,615 MW, compared to last year's peak of 49,027 MW.
- ECAR. Predicted an 11.2 percent capacity margin in summer 2000, compared with 10.8 percent last summer, due in part to the addition of new generation, reactivation of mothballed generation, and a transfer of load certain obligations from ECAR utilities to entities outside the region. It predicted a net summer peak of 95,765 MW, or about 0.4 percent below last year's record peak demand of 96,149 MW. Nevertheless, it warned that in-service schedules for capacity additions "have the potential for slipping," representing a possible 2.646 MW in shortfall. It added that "under all assumed severe condition scenarios, the ECAR region will have insufficient resources available during the peak summer demand period without a higher level of transmission import."
- PJM ISO. Forecasted an increase in summer peak load of about 1,400 MW, up to 51,161 for 2000, as compared with 49,751 MW for 1999. It said that no emergency load procedures would be required if anticipated conditions occur, but warned of emergency load controls imposed if "extreme weather" prevails. It added that "May 9, 2000 temperatures reached levels that were last recorded 125 years ago."
Mergers & Acquisitions
LG&E + PowerGen. Kentucky regulators OK'd the takeover of LG&E Energy Corp. by PowerGen PLC, acknowledging no real merger savings through integration (since PowerGen has "no business presence" in the United States), but citing PowerGen's promise to set up its U.S. headquarters in Louisville- a factor the PSC said would give "top priority" to economic development in Kentucky.
NSP + New Century. The North Dakota PSC OK'd the merger of Northern States Power Co. and New Century Energies, finding that energy consumers in the region would