Extreme temperatures and ongoing drought could cause the power grid to buckle across vast areas of the country this summer, potentially leading to electricity shortages and blackouts, a U.S. power grid regulator said on Thursday.

Power outages possible this summer due to heat and extreme weather, officials warn

Extreme temperatures and persistent drought could cause the power grid to loop across large parts of the country this summer, potentially leading to power shortages and blackouts, a U.S. power grid regulator said Thursday. (Frederic J. Brown, AFP, Getty Images via CNN)

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ATLANTA — Extreme temperatures and persistent drought could cause the power grid to loop across large areas of the country this summer, potentially leading to power shortages and blackouts, a U.S. power grid regulator said Wednesday.

NERC, a regulatory authority that oversees the health of the nation’s power infrastructure, says in its summer 2022 reliability assessment that extreme temperatures and persistent drought could cause the power grid to loop. High temperatures, the agency warns, will lead to increased demand for electricity. Meanwhile, drought conditions will reduce the amount of energy available to meet this demand.

“The industry is preparing its equipment and operators for harsh summer conditions. Extreme and persistent drought and accompanying weather conditions, however, are unusual and tend to create additional constraints on electricity supply and demand,” said NERC Reliability Manager Mark Olson. Ratings.

On Thursday, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center called for nearly all of the contiguous United States to experience above-average temperatures this summer.

The electricity grid is extremely delicate and the supply of electricity must always meet the demand for electricity, experts warn. Otherwise, capacity gaps may arise. A deficit occurs when there is not enough energy produced to meet demand.

Forced blackouts, also known as blackouts, are triggered during these situations — something millions of Americans are likely to see this summer — to prevent long-term damage to the grid.

But electrical networks are also sensitive in winter. In February 2021, Texas experienced its highest demand for electricity on record as residents tried to warm up.

To prevent the power grid from buckling under the strain, grid operators were forced to implement blackouts when Texans needed power the most.

Over 200 people died during the electricity crisis, with the most common cause of death being hypothermia. A post-storm analysis released in November indicated that power plants were unable to produce electricity mainly due to natural gas problems and frozen generators.

NERC says much of North America will have adequate resources and power this summer, but several markets are likely to face power emergencies.

The Upper Midwest and Mid-South along the Mississippi River will see the highest risk this summer, NERC warns, where the decommissioning of old power plants and rising demand are troublesome. Additionally, the region lacks a key transmission line that was damaged by a tornado in December 2021. Texas, the West Coast, and the Southwest are at high risk.

In addition to extreme weather, supply chain issues and an active wildfire season will further compromise reliability this summer, the assessment warns.

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