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  • Ryan Wittler

Several Parts of the U.S. May Experience Blackouts this Summer


A new report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), a nonprofit regulatory agency overseeing grid stability, shows extreme weather has put a large part of North America at risk of energy shortfalls this summer. Report highlights: The report found parts of North America from the Great Lakes to the West Coast are at an increased risk of energy blackouts this summer, as extreme heat and drought conditions are expected to strain electric grids. What’s behind it: NERC says the predicted extreme heat and drought present multiple problems for electric grids, including basics like meeting peak demand and wildfires potentially shutting equipment down.

  • It also creates other issues, like the historic drought across the West that has subsequently limited the amount of hydroelectric power that can be produced.

  • Drought is also impacting the Missouri River Basin, where output from thermal generators that use water from the river for cooling could be limited.

The fight against climate change also poses its own risks, as coal-fired plants have been shuttered faster than wind and solar projects can replace them, according to NERC.

  • NERC expects coal and natural gas plants that are currently in operation to be pushed to their limits, likely leading to breakdowns.

Why it matters: The report is one of the most dire assessments ever offered by NERC.

  • “It’s a pretty sobering report, and it’s clear the risks are spreading,” John Moura, a director at NERC, said in a press briefing. “I certainly do think it's our most cautionary tale here.”

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