The North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) has issued its 2005 Long-Term Reliability Assessment through to 2014.

According to the report, electricity demand is expected to grow by about 69,500 MW between 2005 and 2009 while projected resource additions over the same period total about 49,000 MW, depending upon the number of merchant plants assumed to be in service.

More than 19,840 km of new transmission lines are proposed to be added over the time frame of the study, an almost 6% increase in the total.

However, although the transmission system is expected to operate reliably throughout North America, some portions of the grid will not be able to support all desired electricity market transactions, the report says, adding “some well-known transmission constraints are recurring, while new constraints appear as electricity flow patterns change. As customer demand increases and transmission systems carry increased power flows, portions of these systems will be operated at or near their reliability limits more of the time.”

Most NERC regions do not anticipate any problems with fuel supplies although growing dependence on natural gas is an emerging area of concern.

“Resources are expected to be adequate to meet customer demand throughout North America over the next five years, provided new generating facilities are constructed as anticipated and NERC reliability rules are followed,” said Michehl R. Gent, NERC president and chief executive.