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A new study, "Lights Out In 2009?," warns that the U.S. "faces potentially crippling electricity brownouts and blackouts beginning in the summer of 2009, which may cost tens of billions of dollars and threaten lives."

A 12% to 15% capacity reserve margin is the minimum required to ensure reliability and stability of the nation's electricity system. Compounding this capacity deficiency, the projected U.S. demand in the next 10 years is forecast to grow by 18%, far exceeding the projected 8% growth in baseload generation capacity between now and 2016.

The study estimates that the U.S. will need about 120 GW of new generation just to maintain a 15% reserve margin. That will require at least $300 billion in generation and transmission facility investments by 2016.

The study also identified the primary barriers to getting new power plants and transmission lines built. Chief among these is the "opposition of well-funded environmental groups that oppose and file lawsuits against virtually every new infrastructure project proposed."

The study also includes the following findings:

- the U.S. will require more than 14,500 miles of new electricity transmission lines by 2016,

- substantial increases in wind turbine orders, and new wind capacity has been slowed by a worldwide turbine shortage and local opposition to wind projects, and

- rapidly increasing demand for steel and copper has caused spot scarcity of the resources required to manufacture key electrical components, and this commodity demand has increased the theft of critical system components.

For more information, visit nextgenenergy.org.

SOURCE: NextGen Energy Council

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