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Blackouts possible this summer because of heat, weather this summer, regulator warns

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which oversees the health of the nation’s...
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which oversees the health of the nation’s electrical infrastructure, says these conditions could cause the grid to buckle across vast areas of the country.(MGN)
Updated: May. 21, 2022 at 5:30 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (CNN/WGN/WCSC) - A U.S. power grid regulator is warning about the possibility of electrical shortages and blackouts this summer amid extreme temperatures and ongoing drought.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which oversees the health of the nation’s electrical infrastructure, says these conditions could cause the grid to buckle across vast areas of the country.

The NERC says the Upper Midwest and Mid-South along the Mississippi River will see the highest risk this summer.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted Thursday nearly the entire contiguous United States will see above-average temperatures this summer.

High temperatures will create increased demand.

Meanwhile, drought conditions will lower the amount of power available to meet that demand.

When there is not enough power to meet demand, officials initiate forced power outages, also known as rolling blackouts.

“Grid operators in affected areas will need all available tools to keep the system in balance this summer. Over the longer term, system planners and resource adequacy stakeholders need to keep potentially abnormal weather conditions like these in mind so that we continue to have a reliable and resilient bulk power system.” NERC Reliability Assessments Manager Mark Olson said.

The assessment’s other key findings include:

  • Supply chain issues and commissioning challenges on new resource and transmission projects are a concern in areas where completion is needed for reliability during summer peak periods.
  • The electricity and other critical infrastructure sectors face cyber security threats from Russia, in addition to ongoing cyber risks.
  • Some coal-fired generator owners are facing challenges obtaining fuels as supply chains are stressed.
  • Unexpected tripping of solar photovoltaic resources during grid disturbances continues to be a reliability concern.
  • Active late-summer wildfire season in the Western United States and Canada is anticipated, posing some risk to bulk power system reliability.

The southeastern United States are not included in the higher risk warning, the report states. However, hurricane forecasters have warned the Southeast to prepare for an above-average hurricane season this year.

Back in April, forecasters predicted 19 named storms this season, five more than normal, with nine expected to become hurricanes. The Tropical Meteorology Project team at Colorado State University also predicted four of those hurricanes would be major hurricanes, reaching category three or higher.

Hurricane Season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, although hurricanes and tropical storms have occurred outside of those dates.

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