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Risk of Power Outages in US Grid Increases This Summer

Risk of Power Outages in US Grid Increases This Summer

May 17, 2024

Risk of Power Outages in US Grid Increases This Summer

A recent report by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) indicates that a third of the United States is facing an increased risk of power outages during the upcoming summer months. The study highlights potential challenges in meeting electricity demand, particularly due to the variability of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.

According to the NERC report, several regions, including parts of Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Illinois, and Iowa, could experience an "elevated" risk of summer electricity reliability issues from June to September. This risk level implies the possibility of insufficient operating reserves under conditions of higher-than-normal demand. The assessment is based on factors such as the potential for low wind or solar energy production, which can result in a diminished power supply.

The North American power bulk power system (BPS) consists of six regional entities, with certain areas under their jurisdiction facing elevated risks. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), which operates in 15 states, is expected to have adequate resources for normal summer peak demand. However, MISO may face difficulties if peak demand exceeds normal levels at times of low wind and solar output.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages about 90 percent of Texas' electrical load, also faces the potential for emergency conditions, especially during summer evenings when solar generation decreases. Power transfers between South Texas and the San Antonio region may be limited, adding to the elevated risk of supply shortages.

In the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) area, which covers 14 states, challenges to electricity reliability could arise under conditions of above-normal demand and low-resource availability. This can occur when solar output is low or when imports are below normal.

Michelle Bloodworth, CEO of America's Power, responded to the NERC report by emphasizing the increasing reliance of the American electricity grid on weather-dependent electricity sources. She warned that this reliance puts one-third of the country at an elevated risk of blackouts this summer and that the risks could increase due to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.

Coinciding with the NERC report, the EPA announced new rules on April 25 designed to reduce pollution from fossil fuel-fired power plants. These rules set stricter standards for coal and gas plants to reduce carbon emissions, toxic metals, and mercury, as well as strengthen regulations on wastewater and coal ash management.

However, the new EPA regulations have faced criticism. Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, described the EPA's approach as "unlawful, unrealistic, and unachievable," suggesting that it could undermine electric reliability. Similarly, Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) criticized the Biden administration for threatening access to affordable and reliable energy with its climate agenda.

NERC Report

The Epoch Times Article


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