The U.S. electric grid has sufficient resources to meet this summer’s peak demand, even as uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic lingers, the North American Electric Reliability Council said in a new report.
“Industry appears well-positioned for the coming summer season,” said John Moura, NERC director of reliability assessment and performance analysis. “As pandemic-related restrictions continue through the summer, we may see electricity peak demand lower than forecast, which could help offset potential challenges with unexpected generation outages or extreme weather impacts.”
2020 Summer Reliability Assessment, NERC found that reserve margins exceed summer demand forecasts in all regions of the country, except Texas. Despite adding more than 1.9 gigawatts of on-peak capacity since last summer, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) should prepare for energy emergency alerts this season, the assessment found.
Prior to the pandemic, ERCOT planners had forecast tight margins for this summer, similar to those experienced by the region last summer.
NERC’s summer assessment was preceded by
a special report on the pandemic’s potential impact on the electric grid.
The industry should continue to closely monitor potential cyber risks stemming from the pandemic, according to the assessment. NERC’s Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center will continue providing communications and guidance from the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council and government partners to help critical infrastructure operators shore up the grid, it said.
Other findings of the summer assessment include:
- Monitoring of ongoing staff and equipment preparations will be important as some generation and transmission owners and operators postponed or canceled preseason maintenance because of pandemic-related issues.
- Protecting essential staff with restrictions and systems during the pandemic remains a priority to ensure electric reliability and resilience.
- System operators “must be prepared to address demand forecast uncertainty and potentially challenging operating conditions as a result of low demand on the system.”
- An above-normal summer wildfire season beginning as early as June could threaten electric reliability in the western United States.