The agency responsible for North America’s electrical reliability warned that power shortages were possible this summer in California, Texas and the U.S. Midwest, where extreme heat power plants could fail due to severe drought.
In 2021, a number of extreme weather events forced the U.S. power grid, including the February freezing in Texas that cut off power to millions of people after natural gas pipes were deposited, and with record heat, drought and fire in the west.
In its summer outlook, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) said the ongoing drought is reducing hydropower generation and causing fires in parts of the western United States.
The NERC said the hydropower downside puts the entire U.S. West at risk of an energy emergency due to the limited supply of power available for relocation in the event of extreme heat events over a wide area.
In Texas, the NERC says that since 2021 most wind and solar production growth conditions have improved.
But the group warns that “combining high peak demand, low wind, and high generating rates from heat generators may require system operators to use emergency procedures, including temporary manual load shedding.”
That means Texas could feel the rolling blackouts again.
In the US Midwest, the NERC said there was a shortage of ISO capacity in the Midlands due to forecast growth this summer and declining available production.
In the Missouri River Basin, NERC warns that drought could reduce output from hydropower plants and heat generators that use river water for cooling, possibly forcing southwest power pool utilities to use emergency procedures during peak periods.
In Canada, the NERC says Saskatchewan is facing a capacity shortage this summer due to a demand increase of more than 7.5% since 2021.
The US East Coast and the rest of Canada should have “adequate resources” for the summer, the NERC said.
(Reporting by Scott Desavino, edited by Bernadette Baum)