These areas of the US are at “elevated” risk of power outages this summer
(NEXSTAR) – Much of the United States could suffer power outages this summer, according to the annual assessment by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).
The report, which estimates how prepared the energy grids that power air conditioning, medical equipment, lighting and other essential resources are, found that about two-thirds of the country is at a “high risk” of power loss.
These regions include the entire continental United States from Texas to the West Coast, along with much of the Midwest and New England.
Despite the extensive areas flagged by the non-profit organization, there is some positive news. Contrary to last year’s report, there are no “high risk” regions where normal peak conditions could max out operating reserves. In 2022, the NERC map showed many states under the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana, either fully or partially at high risk.
“Increased, rapid deployment of wind, solar and batteries has had a positive impact,” Mark Olson, NERC’s head of reliability assessments, said in a statement. “However, generator retirements continue to increase the risk associated with extreme summer temperatures, affecting potential supply shortages in the western two-thirds of North America if summer temperatures increase.”
This year’s analysis shows that grids should be able to function during normal summer weather, but extreme weather events like the deadly “heat dome” of 2021, a period of record heat behind much of the western United States, could cripple grids from the Pacific Northwest and Sun Belt to Texas, according to energy – and the environmental publication E&E News.
“The system is closer to the edge. More needs to be done, John Moura, NERC director of reliability assessment and performance analysis, told reporters Wednesday.
Using past data on Americans’ summer energy use and temperature history, NERC estimates there is a 1-in-10 chance this summer of extreme conditions, according to E&E.
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