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InsiderOnline Blog: October 2008

The Next Crisis on the Horizon: Summer Blackouts?

Without immediate and significant new investments in both power plants and power lines, major electricity blackouts and brownouts could occur as early as next summer, particularly in the Western states, predicts the NextGen Energy Council*. The problem, according to the group’s recent report, is that supply is not keeping up with demand:

U.S. baseload generation capacity reserve margins have declined precipitously to 17 percent in 2007, from 30-40 percent in the early 1990s. A 12-15 percent capacity reserve margin is the minimum required to ensure reliability and stability of the nation’s electricity system.

According to the Council, maintaining a reliable supply of electricity will require a minimum of $300 billion of new investments in generation and transmission between now and 2016. Why aren’t these investments being made? The Council says the industry is discouraged by the uncertainty created by state and federal efforts to pass new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions as well as by the certainty of lawsuits from environmental groups seeking to block virtually all access to new coal-generated electricity.

* The Council describes itself as a collaborative of Western and Great Plains governors, state and federal legislators, state and federal agency officials, business leaders, conservation groups and others committed to accelerating the development of next-generation advanced coal technologies, fossil-renewable hybrid systems and strategies for increasing the economic utilization of carbon dioxide.

Hat tip: William Yeatman at

Posted on 10/15/08 04:01 PM by Alex Adrianson

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