Utilities are warning that consumers may face more blackouts as the strain on power grids increases. Observers note that power companies are struggling with increased construction costs and tight credit markets. Without the new plants, consumers may have to purchase more expensive alternative fuels. "We have to have new [power generation] capacity at some point, or we'll have brownouts, blackouts," Global Insight economist Mary Novak said. "The problem is, too many [utilities] are betting on delay."

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