Extreme summer weather risks outages in some US regions

Source: By Peter Behr, E&E News • Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2024

Solar power is adding critical capacity, but rising demand is a strain on the system, grid monitor reports.

The North American Electric Reliability Corp. issued a summer reliability assessment on Wednesday.

The North American Electric Reliability Corp. issued a summer reliability assessment Wednesday. Claudine Hellmuth/E&E News (illustration); Andrew Martin/Pixabay (power lines); Lindsey White/Pixabay (thermometer); PublicDomainPictures.net (sun flare)

The nation’s electric grid monitor warned Tuesday that areas of New England, the Upper Midwest and the Southwest face potential energy emergencies if severe heat waves strike this summer, including risks of rolling outages.

But every grid region should escape blackout risks under normal temperatures and weather conditions, according to the summer reliability report by the North American Electric Reliability Corp.

NERC analysts said regional grids across the nation have been aided by a record 25,000 megawatts of solar power capacity added since last summer. In critical periods of peak energy demand, NERC expects solar power to play a significant role in keeping the electricity flowing.

The unprecedented changes in electric power generation and demand and increasing extreme weather conditions are challenging grid forecasters and operators.