Demand is likely to be reduced by 2%, back to 2006 levels, according to a recent report by the North American Electric Reliability Corp. “The economic recession has contributed to an overall reduction in the (forecast) demand for electricity this summer, leading to higher reserve margins across North America for the season,” said Mark Lauby, NERC’s director of reliability assessments.
Peak demand puts a lot of pressure on the electric grid as capacity has to be expanded to meet the times of greatest electricity use. Maximum demand on the power grid occurs during weekday afternoons and evenings in the summer months in most regions of the United States. This electricity is the most expensive to generate.
Meeting peak demand requires additional capacity. In many cases, power plants are built just to meet these peak times and fired-up as needed. Natural gas, oil, and solar power plants are ideally suited for this. Coal and nuclear power plants typically generate base load because such power plants take longer to fire-up and the fuel source is relatively cheap.