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Grid Unreliability Projected for Eastern Missouri

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In my last post I looked at the 2013 Long-Term Reliability Assessment issued by NERC, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation. In that post, I focused on a grid-wide perspective. In this post, I’ll offer a few thoughts about Missouri.

In the Northeast, the largest power outages have been caused by relatively small failures at specific locations that caused underloads or overloads, which then cascaded into region-wide outages. But not so in Missouri. Here, the largest power outages have been caused by storms that destroyed transmission lines, most of which are in the local transmission grid. (See Electrical Outages from Storms Increase.) The 2013 Long-Term Reliability Assessment does not cover the local transmission grid, and it does not seek to evaluate the potential for damaging storms.

MO NERC Regions MapThe resource adequacy of Missouri’s grid depends on where you are. The western portion of the state, (see map at right) belongs to the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) reporting region. The SPP 10-year compound growth rate in demand for electricity is 0.89% during the summer and 0.85% during the winter. The anticipated reserve margin is projected to fall from 35.71% in 2014 to 28.64% in 2023, well above NERC’s 14.2% target.

The central portion of the state belongs to the SERC-N reporting region. The SERC-N 10-year compound growth rate in demand for electricity is 1.41% during the summer and 1.01% during the winter. The anticipated reserve margin is projected to fall from 26.75% to 12.49% in 2023, falling below NERC’s 14.2% target in that year.

A portion of eastern Missouri belongs to the Midwest Independent Service Organization (MISO) reporting region, including the St. Louis Metropolitan Region. The MISO 10-year compound annual growth rate is 0.69% in summer and 0.76% in winter. Though starting at 18.28% in 2014, the anticipated reserve margin is projected to fall to 12.13% the very next year (below the NERC target of 14.2%), then to 5.54% by 2018, and finally to 3.44% by 2023. In fact, despite projected growth in demand, generating resources are projected to decline slightly. The decline will be caused by the loss of significant coal-fired generation, partially replaced by new gas, nuclear, and wind generation.

In attempting to assess future demand and resource adequacy, NERC has attempted to consider the effect of new pollution regulations issued by the EPA. The report was issued, however, before the rules were finalized or the court cases over them decided. Thus, there is no guarantee that the eventual effects will match those assumed in the report.

The bottom line is that we are entering a period of uncertainty with regard to our national bulk electricity grid. New legislation made it mandatory for all participants in The Grid to participate in NERC, and it gave NERC regulations the force of law. These changes hold out the potential for increased reliability and improved operations. On the other hand, many factors combine to represent threats to the long-term reliability of The Grid: environmental regulations that will force the retirement of coal-fired generating capacity, the retirement of nuclear generating capacity that has reached the end of its useful life, new generating sources that provide constantly varying amounts of power to The Grid, and uncertainty surrounding demand side management programs.

Resource adequacy in western Missouri appears to be adequate throughout the planning period. In central Missouri, it appears to be adequate until 2023. In eastern Missouri reserves become inadequate by 2015, and by 2023 reserves will be less than 1/4 of the target set by NERC.

Source:

North American Electric Reliability Corporation. 2013. 2013 Long-Term Reliability Assessment. http://www.nerc.com/pa/RAPA/ra/Reliability%20Assessments%20DL/2013_LTRA_FINAL.pdf.

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