Warmer summer, 25 GW of new capacity expected in US

Source: 2018 NERC Summer Reliability Assessment Data.

May 22 (Renewables Now) - The US is forecast to experience higher than average temperatures this summer, but net demand for electricity is to remain relatively flat year-on-year due to the higher implementation of demand response and growth in behind-the-meter distributed energy resources.

This will be a record summer for natural gas demand for power generation, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said in its Summer 2018 Energy Market and Reliability Assessment, citing a forecast by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts an above-normal chance for higher than average temperatures for the West, South, and East for June, July, and August. The expectation for higher than average temperatures is greatest in New England and along a band running from West Texas through the Pacific Northwest.

More than 25 GW of new power capacity is to enter commercial service through the end of the summer period, mainly from natural gas-fired plants and wind and solar farms. At the same time, 10.8 GW of coal-fired capacity and 2.3 GW of natural gas-fired capacity have retired since May 2017.


North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) Regional Entities anticipate that power resources will be enough to meet the reference margin levels in most regions this summer. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), however, anticipates that its reserve margin will be just 10.92%, as compared to a reference margin level of 13.75%, due to the retirement of coal and gas-fired capacity and the delay in construction of 2.1 GW of new plants. Still, ERCOT expects to have sufficient operational tools to manage tight reserves and maintain system reliability.

Total of 961 MW of wind and 387 MW of solar power, and 355 MW of gas capacity, are expected to come online in ERCOT by September 30.

In Southern California, natural gas-fired generation may not be able to fully offset lower-than-average hydropower generation as a result of reduced gas storage capacity and local pipeline outages in the region. The California Independent System Operator’s (CAISO) 2018 Summer Loads and Resources Assessment projects tighter supply conditions if high-load and below-average hydroelectricity generation conditions occur. CAISO is prepared to turn to demand response and consumer conservation in that scenario.

In the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions, as well as the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and Florida, reserve margins will be above reference levels. For the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) the reserve margin for summer 2018 is projected to be 19.1%, also above the reference margin level of 17.1%.

The Eastern Interconnection expects to connect 11,286 MW of new natural gas-fired capacity this summer, as well as 4,835 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) plants and 2,476 MW of wind. In the Western Interconnection some 319 MW of natural gas, 570 MW of solar PV, 968 MW of wind and 568 MW of hydro capacity are to be added by the end of 2018.

The US had 720 MW of battery storage capacity in operation as of January 2018 and 63 MW more is to be added this summer, FERC noted.

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Tsvet has been following the development of the global renewable energy industry for seven years now. She's got a soft spot for emerging markets.

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