Much of the country could be at risk of electricity shortages amid projections of an unusually hot summer

The nation’s power grid is in precarious shape heading into what could be an especially hot summer, according to the regulatory authority that monitors the electricity system, with much of the country at risk for outages if it experiences scorching weather scientists say looks increasingly likely.

While the seasonal electricity forecast is more optimistic than it was last year — when much of the Midwest and southeast was so short of power that the regions were on high alert for “energy emergencies” — it points to an unnerving summer ahead. The report comes as scientists are tracking a developing El Nino weather pattern that threatens to cause temperatures to spike and big storms to form in the coming months.

The mid-Atlantic and southeastern states are the only areas of the country where the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) is not warning of the potential for outages in the event of prolonged and intense heat waves or monster storms.

“The system is close to its edge,” said John Moura, director of reliability assessment and performance analysis at NERC. “More needs to be done to bolster the system’s resilience.”

The warnings are becoming an annual event. The stability that once underpinned the country’s power system has dissolved under the stress of heat domes and hurricanes precipitated by climate change. A lack of investment in the fragile collection of transfer stations and transmission lines that keep lights on and air conditioners humming is compounding the problem.

The findings are sure to rekindle debate about the energy transition and the extent to which initiatives to curb climate change are stressing the national network of electricity systems. They come only days after the Biden administration unveiled a new, aggressive plan to lower emissions at power plants, which opponents charge will further erode grid stability. Read more...

*Credit: Washington Post, By Evan Halper