ATLANTA-A new study by University of Georgia researchers assures commercial and industrial customers they won’t experience the power blackouts of their California brethren, at least through 2004.

Even after that period, Georgia can quickly stock up on power through 2010, the study finds, because the state’s utilities have a special advantage over neighboring states: They can site, permit and build a new natural gas power plant in less than two years.

“This short construction timeframe allows utilities ample amount of time to plan and build new plants to meet any shortfalls, particularly in the 2005-2010 timeframe,” Dr. Albert Danielsen,, director of the James C. Bonbright Utilities Center at the university’s Terry College, says in a special report co-authored with Dr. Chip Wright.

Wright is president of J.A. Wright and Associates, an Atlanta company specializing in regulatory issues, business and strategic planning and economic analysis.

Georgia has enough utility-owned power and firm contract purchases of electricity to meet demand, including a 15% reserve margin, the authors say in a prepared statement.

“We have concluded that the current amount of electric generation is adequate to meet the needs of the state this summer and that because of the planning process in place, there will be enough electricity for the next several years,” Wright finds.

He cautions, however, “the utilities and regulators need to closely monitor growth in demands for electricity in the next few years so they can continue to build enough power plants to meet the needs in the future.”

In emphasizing demand-side options, Danielsen says in the statement that the state’s peak demand is lower “due to well-established real-time pricing programs” of Georgia utilities.

Georgia has more industrial and commercial customers on real-time pricing than any other state, the researchers say. That means, Georgia is “well-positioned on both the supply and demand side of the equation,” Danielsen says in the statement.

The study reviewed the current conditions and plans for electricity generation of Georgia Power, Savannah Electric, Oglethorpe Power and the Municipal Electric Association of Georgia.

The researchers point out the Georgia Public Service Commission is “involved in an Integrated Resource Plan process that requires utilities to forecast demand and either build or contract for enough generation to meet that demand.”

They note that Georgia Power and Savannah Electric’s request for proposals “that are on the street now asking for 2,500 megawatts of new generation in 2005-2006 should cover any reserve margin shortfalls through 2007.” Bids to meet that RFP are due July 2.

The researchers’ full report may be seen on [email protected].

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