energy shortage

Large portions of the United States, accompanied by certain regions in Canada, comprising approximately 165 million individuals, face the risk of energy shortages during periods of intense heat throughout the upcoming summer, cautioned the North American Electric Reliability Corp (NERC), the organization responsible for setting reliability standards for electric grids in North America.

In its recently published summer outlook, the NERC identified the U.S. West, Midwest, Texas, Southeast, and New England, along with Ontario in Canada, as being at heightened risk of “insufficient operating reserves in above-normal conditions.”

NERC pointed out that the U.S. West is particularly susceptible to energy supply shortages during extreme heat events, as the region relies on energy transfers from neighboring areas to meet peak demand or compensate for reduced solar output.

NERC stated, “Wildfire risks to the transmission network, which frequently occur during these extensive heat events, can impede electricity transfers and lead to localized load shedding.”

In the U.S. Midwest, NERC highlighted potential challenges for the Midcontinent ISO in meeting above-average peak demand if the energy output from wind generators falls below expectations.

Regarding Texas, NERC expressed confidence that the state’s resources are sufficient to meet the demands of an average summer, considering the addition of over 4 gigawatts of new solar capacity to its grid since last year.

However, the organization cautioned that “dispatchable generation may not be sufficient to meet reserves during an extreme heatwave accompanied by low winds.”

NERC also noted that New England and Ontario might need to rely on non-firm imports during times of extreme demand or limited resource availability, while the Southeast is vulnerable due to stagnant growth in generating resources.

The limited operation of coal-fired power plants due to stricter environmental regulations, low water levels in major reservoirs, unforeseen disruptions in wind and solar resources, and curtailed transfers to areas in need were cited by NERC as additional concerns affecting the reliability of the power supply.

In recent years, NERC has taken a more assertive stance in warning about reliability concerns after power grid operators were compelled to implement rolling blackouts in California in August 2020 and in Texas in February 2021.


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