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November 27, 2000

PSC expert: New York needs to increase power plants to meet future demand

New York State will not have enough energy capacity to meet its demand unless it sites more power plants soon, an expert from the Public Service Commission (PSC) has told The Business Council.

"Electric supplies are tight for 2001, 2002, and beyond unless new generation is built," Howard Tarler, Chief of Bulk Transmission Systems for the PSC, said Nov. 13 at the annual issues conference of The Council's Government Affairs Council. "Energy conservation programs alone cannot solve capacity needs.

"Our neighboring states are building power plants," he added. "We have to start catching up or we are going to be left behind." He noted that an inadequate supply of power was the cause of power problems in California last summer that caused substantial social and economic disruption there.

Growth in demand in New York State: Since 1998, New York State's energy usage has outpaced both moderate and high-end projections, Tarler said. For example, annual peak electricity usage has increased from 27,206 megawatts in 1995 to 30,311 megawatts in 1999.

In 1999, New York's actual load exceeded the highest growth projections for 2002, he said, and growth has continued since then.

New York should be able to meet demand for electricity through 2002, Tarler said, citing a "Reliability Assessment for 2000-2009" released in October by the North American Electric Reliability Council.

But after that, Tarler added, "market solutions must be obtained, including several thousand megawatts" of new power.

How the PSC is addressing concerns about supply: To address concerns about the state's future energy supply, the PSC is trying to identify potential sources of new supply and opportunities for demand reduction, and to ensure an efficient and effective siting process for new generating facilities, Tarler said.

For example, for 2001, the PSC hopes to gain 750 megawatts of power, 500 of them in New York City, through a combination of increased generation and load reduction, he said. For 2002, the goal is a net gain of at least 600 additional megawatts, of which 200 should be in New York City, he said.

To meet short-term goals, Tarler said, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) has bought 11 44-megawatt gas turbines to be installed by next summer, nine or 10 in New York City and the rest on Long Island.