U.S. News

Southern California power supply at risk this summer: FERC

(Reuters) - Natural gas constraints in Southern California could pose a risk to the region’s power supply this summer, while New England and Texas could face tight electricity supplies, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said on Thursday.

Overall, the agency said in its Summer 2017 Energy Market and Reliability Assessment report that preliminary data from the North American Electric Reliability Corp (NERC), which writes the nation’s power reliability standards, forecast power resources should be adequate to meet demand in most regions this summer.

However, restrictions at Southern California Gas’ Aliso Canyon, the biggest natural gas storage facility in the state, could pose a risk to gas and electric reliability, especially if hotter than normal weather conditions and unplanned gas pipeline outages materialize during the summer, FERC said.

California state agencies have not allowed SoCalGas, a unit of Sempra Energy, to inject gas into the facility following a leak between October 2015-February 2016.

Also, new regulations on gas storage facilities imposed by California, are likely to reduce the flow of the fuel, FERC added.

“Given the abundance of accumulated snow water (in the Western regions), high hydro generation is likely to continue into the early part of the summer, which could be leveraged to reduce gas constraints in Southern California,” the report said, adding that snow water equivalent in the region, particularly in California, has been near record levels seen during the 1982-1983 period.

The anticipated reserve margin in ISO New England, the regional power grid operator, is forecast at 14.9 percent, slightly below the target of 15.1 percent.

The operator could be forced to import additional power from neighboring regions in case peak summer conditions materialize, as forecast, since the commissioning of about 700 megawatts of new resources could be delayed, FERC said.

One megawatt can power about U.S. 1,000 homes.

In Texas, FERC forecast that reserve margins in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the power grid for about 75 percent of the state, would continue to be tight when compared to other regions, even though the operator expects to have adequate generating capacity to meet peak demand.

“The Lower Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, and West Texas are a few areas in ERCOT that risk experiencing localized reliability issues due to strong load growth, transmission constraints, and limited generation resources,” the report said.

For the entire report, please see

Reporting by Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Marguerita Choy