A large part of North America remains at risk of power supply shortfalls, though certain areas show reduced risk due to resource additions, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s (NERC) 2024 Summer Reliability Assessment (SRA).

Heat events that affect generation, wind output or transmission systems coupled with demand growth in some areas are contributing to resource adequacy risks, according to NERC’s findings released this week.

All areas were assessed to have adequate supply for normal peak load due largely to a record 25 GW of additional solar capacity being added since last year, the organization said. However, energy risks are growing in several areas when output from renewables like solar, wind and hydro is low.

The 2024 assessment found a significant increase in demand, driven by the adoption of electric vehicles (EV) and construction of new data centers. This was particularly the case in the Southwest, Texas and British Columbia.

Seven areas – Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), MRO-SaskPower, NPCC-New England, Texas RE-ERCOT, WECC-British Columbia, WECC-California/Mexico and WECC-Southwest – were found to be at “elevated risk” of energy emergencies during extreme conditions. NERC said this was due to several factors, including recent generator retirements, wind generator performance, drought and unplanned outages or a combination of these factors resulting in insufficient reserves.

In Texas and California, for example, where solar PV resources make up a large portion of the resource mix, the risk of electricity supply shortfalls occurs in the late afternoon and evening hours as solar output is diminished.

Source: NERC, 2024 Summer Reliability Assessment.

“One of the key challenges operators face as the resource mix evolves is how to get through the summer evening periods with fewer available resources at their disposal,” said John Moura, NERC’s director of Reliability Assessments and Performance Analysis.

While no bulk power system reliability impacts are foreseen for the upcoming summer, NERC is stressing the increasing importance of gas and electric coordination. The organization recommended that balancing authorities be cognizant of natural gas supply infrastructure outage and maintenance plans with the potential to affect generators in their areas.

NERC also identified other reliability issues that should be taken into consideration prior to summer, including the response by inverter-based resources to system disturbances, which affect solar facilities, battery storage and conventional l generation.

The assessment also made several recommendations for policymakers to consider implementing prior to the start of the season:

• Reliability coordinators, balancing authorities and transmission operators in elevated risk areas should review seasonal operating plans and the protocols for communicating and resolving potential supply shortfalls; employ conservative generation and transmission outage coordination procedures commensurate with long-range weather forecasts; and engage state or provincial regulators and policymakers to prepare for efficient implementation of demand-side management mechanisms.

• Generator operators with solar PV resources should implement recommendations from the March 2023 IBR Performance Issues Alert.

• State regulators and industry should have protocols in place at the start of summer for managing emergent requests from generators for air-quality restriction waivers.

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