NERC Summer Reliability Assessment Overview

By: Gregg Shively 
Published: June 29, 2018

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation's (NERC) recent 2018 Summer Reliability Assessment finds that there are enough resources to meet this summer's projected peak electricity demand in in all areas of the country except the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Anticipated reserve margins—the amount of expected unused electric generating capacity at the time of peak load—range from a little less than 11% in ERCOT to about 33% in PJM Interconnection (PJM).

All U.S. regions in NERC’s Summer Reliability Assessment have anticipated reserve margins that are higher than their planning reference margins with the exception of ERCOT. With 78,146 megawatts (MW) of anticipated resources this summer, ERCOT projects an anticipated reserve margin of 10.9%, which equates to a capacity shortfall of about 2,000 MW, based on its planning reference margin of 13.75%.

Anticipated reserve margins are highest in the PJM and Southwest Power Pool (SPP), where reserve margins exceed 32%. Reserve margins that are significantly in excess of target levels, although helpful for reliability, indicate the region may have an excess generation capacity.

California Deferring Transmission with Batteries?

By: Chris Herr 
Published: June 26, 2018

Transmission deferral is one of the more cost-effective uses for energy storage on the grid, but it often lacks a clear path for implementation. The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) is working to correct that.

While most stakeholders cheered CAISO for taking on the topic, the range of responses shows there is much more work to be done to incorporate energy storage into the California grid. Some stakeholders are weary of the proposal's potential to suppress competitive prices in wholesale power markets.

NJ to Develop Alternative Solar Incentive Program

By: Gregg Shively 
Published: June 25, 2018

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) last week approved a rule to begin the process of developing an "orderly and transparent mechanism" for shuttering the current Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) program.

The process is necessary to develop and transition to a "sustainable program that will support the continued growth of new, cost effective solar generation in the state," regulators said. The clean energy bill raises the state's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 50% by 2030.

2017 New US Power Plant Additions

By: Chris Herr 
Published: June 21, 2018

Natural gas combined-cycle plants accounted for 10.1 GW, or 40%, of the total proposed capacity that had been scheduled to come online in 2017. Of this amount, 7.5 GW came online within the year, and 2.6 GW were delayed until 2018.

Renewable energy technologies—wind and solar (PV) generation—represented the next two largest groups of capacity additions in 2017. Of the 6.9 GW of onshore wind turbines scheduled to come online in 2017, 86% came online as scheduled in 2017; 792 megawatts (MW) were delayed and 155 MW were canceled. About 3.9 GW of utility-scale solar photovoltaic capacity were completed on schedule last year, and 1.2 GW were delayed to 2018 or beyond.

Power Marketers Increasing Share of US Electricity Sales

By: Bret Grady 
Published: June 12, 2018

Competitive power marketers supplied about 21% of the retail electricity sold in the United States in 2016, up from 11% in 2005. The share of retail electricity sales of regulated investor-owned utilities fell from 62% in 2005 to 52% in 2016. This shift was driven by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which repealed the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 and closed the original federal regulatory structure established by New Deal-era legislation, which was a combination of public financial reforms and regulations in the 1930s.

Battery Storage Cost Factors

By: Gregg Shively 
Published: June 01, 2018

Capital costs for large-scale battery storage systems installed across the United States differ depending on technical characteristics. Systems are generally designed to provide either greater power capacity (a battery’s maximum instantaneous power output) or greater energy capacity (the total amount of electricity that can be stored or discharged by a battery system).

Fossil Fuel Consumption in Electric Gen Lowest Since 1994

By: Marty Barclay 
Published: May 29, 2018

Fossil fuel consumption in the electric power sector declined to 22.5 quadrillion British thermal units (quads) in 2017, the lowest level since 1994. The declining trend in fossil fuel consumption by the power sector has been driven by a decrease in the use of coal and petroleum with a slightly offsetting increase in the use of natural gas. Changes in the fuel mix and improvements in electricity generating technology have also led the power sector to produce electricity while consuming fewer fossil fuels.

2018 - A Record Year for Pipeline Capacity in the Northeast

By: Gregg Shively 
Published: May 18, 2018

EIA expects construction of new natural gas pipeline capacity in the United States to continue in 2018, in particular in the northeastern United States. By the end of 2018, if all projects come online by their scheduled service dates, more than 23 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of takeaway capacity will be online out of the Northeast, up from an estimated 16.7 Bcf/d at the end of 2017 and more than three times the takeaway capacity at the end of 2014.

Future of Nuclear Power Depends on Gas and Carbon Pricing

By: Bret Grady 
Published: May 08, 2018

Existing U.S. nuclear power generating plants operate under increasingly competitive market conditions brought on by relatively low natural gas prices, increasing electricity generation from renewable energy sources, and limited growth in electric power demand. Several sensitivity cases prepared for EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2018 (AEO2018) show the potential effects on the U.S. nuclear power fleet of different assumptions for natural gas prices, potential carbon policies, and nuclear power plant operating costs.

Renewable Energy will Survive the Trump Administration

By: Chris Herr 
Published: February 23, 2018

Renewables have been growing in developed and developing markets over the last decade. Why? Falling costs thanks to advancements in technology, first with wind power and evolving with solar in recent years. In fact, more efficient technology has made renewables competitive to the point that the phasing out of incentives has begun. Over the past decade, investors have gained confidence in how these sources of energy can be predicted. And the more costs continue to decline for renewables, the more they will take market share away from the traditional energy markets.