updated 10/16/2006 10:32:50 AM ET 2006-10-16T14:32:50

The power sector's reliability is on course to worsen over the next decade as electricity demand outpaces the addition of new power-generation capacity, the group that oversees North America's grid said in a report issued Monday.

The North American Electric Reliability Council, appointed by the federal government to be the nation's power-grid watchdog, said that in the next two to three years the power-supply cushion in Texas, New England, the mid-Atlantic, the Midwest and the Rocky Mountain regions will drop to unhealthy levels.

With demand for electricity expected to rise by 19 percent by 2015, and generation capacity on pace to grow by just 6 percent, "the adequacy of North America's electricity system will decline unless changes are made soon," the council's president, Rick Sergel, said in a report released Monday.

In addition to building more power plants, companies need to upgrade transmission systems, improve energy efficiency programs for businesses and consumers and prepare to replace an aging work force, the council said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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