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Grid monitor report shows higher power outage risk from heat, wildfires, droughts

By Ashley Williams
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Grid monitor report shows higher power outage risk from heat, wildfires, droughts
Heavy plumes of smoke billow from the Dixie fire above the Plumas National Forest near the Pacific Gas and Electric Rock Creek Power House last July. File Photo by Peter DaSilva/UPI | License Photo

May 20 (UPI) -- Scorching summer heat, prolonged droughts and wildfire outbreaks will ramp up the risk of power outages across Texas, California and the central and upper Midwest, an assessment from the nation's grid monitor showed.

The North American Electric Reliability Corp. released its 2022 Summer Reliability Assessment on Wednesday, which examines areas of concern across the United States as the weather gets hotter between June and September.

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The report says most of the North American continent will have adequate resources and electricity this summer except for some areas facing a higher threat of energy emergencies.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center on Thursday noted that most of the United States would experience above-average warmth next season.

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The hotter it becomes, the higher the demand will be for electricity, while drought conditions could lessen the amount of power available to meet the demand.

The Midwest, according to the report, "faces a capacity shortfall in its north and central areas, resulting in high risk of energy emergencies during peak summer conditions."

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator serves as the region's grid manager and energy market operator.

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The NERC report highlighted potential summer risks to the region's electricity supply of extreme temperatures, higher-generation outages and low wind conditions, which could "expose the MISO north and central areas to higher risk of temporary operator-initiated load shedding to maintain system reliability," the report read.

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"An elevated risk of energy emergencies persists" across the West as dry conditions pose a threat to the availability of hydroelectric energy that can be transferred, it showed.

However, California should be able to meet peak power demands this summer, as long as there are about 3,400 megawatts of new resources available as scheduled.

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Texas suffered catastrophic power issues in the past when 200 people died after the grid failed in February 2021.

In May and June 2021, the report says, the state's system was impacted by widespread solar farm shutdowns.

This summer, Texas officials seem more optimistic about the grid's outcome. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas's interim CEO, Brad Jones, said during a Tuesday press conference he is "confident" about the system's electricity reliability despite record peak demand projections of 77,317 megawatts in the coming months.

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