Most of the United States will face an elevated risk of blackouts if summer weather turns extreme, extending into parts of the southeast U.S. for the first time, according to the regulatory body that oversees power grid stability.
Energy supply should be adequate to meet normal summer peak demand, but “if summer temperatures spike and become more widespread, the U.S. West, Midwest, Texas and Southeast United States, New England and Ontario may experience resource shortfalls,” the North American Electric Reliability Corp. said this week in its 2023 Summer Reliability Assessment.
Extreme heat events put the western U.S. particularly at risk of a shortfall, since it relies on regional energy transfers to meet demand at peak or when solar production is reduced, the report said.
NERC added the central southeast region, including Tennessee and parts of five neighboring states, to its risk list because peak demand is expected to increase by ~950 MW with little change to supply.
The Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which serves a wide swath of customers from the U.S. Gulf Coast to Canada, could face problems during periods of high demand if wind generator energy output is lower than expected.
Texas has added more than 4 GW of new solar capacity to its grid since last year, but “dispatchable generation may not be sufficient to meet reserves during an extreme heat-wave that is accompanied by low winds,” NERC said.
New England’s grid has less power supply than last summer and likely will need help from neighboring areas to manage tight periods, according to the report.
“This report is an especially dire warning that America’s ability to keep the lights on has been jeopardized,” NERC CEO Jim Matheson said.
Power grid operator PJM Interconnection published a report earlier this year warning it could face a serious shortfall in electric generating capacity in coming years as traditional generator retirements outpace additions.