May 24, 2024

The US Southwest and Texas are at risk of blackouts this summer, the regulator says

The American Southwest and Texas are at risk of increasing power shortages during peak demand this summer. The North American Electric Reliability Association said Wednesday that this is due to increasing electricity consumption and supply shortages.

Parts of the Midwest and New England are also at risk of power shortages during peak power usage periods this summer, while normal conditions are expected for much of the U.S. Northwest and East Coast, according to NERC.

Why is it important?

Higher temperatures, new data centers, increased manufacturing activity and electric vehicles are driving U.S. electricity demand projections higher in the summer months. At the same time, forecasts of reduced wind power and reduced coal-fired power generation are expected to reduce supply in some parts of the United States.

In power grids with insufficient supply or sluggish transmission and distribution networks, high demand can drive up electricity bills and lead to power outages.

A record addition of 25 GW of solar capacity last year, particularly in Texas and Florida, will help offset increased demand, NERC said.

However, intermittent energy sources perform below average depending on the strength of sunlight and wind. Without the technology to store renewable energy for long periods of time, intermittent electricity supply can contribute to a instability.

Key quote

“One of the biggest challenges operators face is surviving summer evenings with limited resources,” said John Moura, NERC’s director of reliability assessments and performance analysis.

environment

Peak times for electricity demand in summer are usually in the evenings, when workers come home, turn on cooling systems and charge electric vehicles. At this time, solar energy resources are limited, which will especially impact states with large solar power generation such as California and Texas.

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Frequent forest fires in the summer and fall can disrupt power supplies and drive up electricity prices.