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Lack of Resources Predicted to Spark Rolling Blackouts This Summer

  The western United States is at heightened risk of suffering from power blackouts because of rising temperatures and insufficient power pr...

 The western United States is at heightened risk of suffering from power blackouts because of rising temperatures and insufficient power production to meet demand.

The North American Energy Reliability Corporation said in its 2022 Summer Reliability Assessment that five utility companies in seven regions face high risks of ending up with “insufficient operating reserves,” Fox News reported Friday.

“It basically says that there’s a high risk of lack of sufficient resources, particularly in the Midwest, in Texas and in California or out in the Far West,” Electrical Power Research Institute Vice President Daniel Brooks told Fox News.

“When you have that climate impacts that are driving higher demand that also are impacting the ability of the resources to produce at the same time that you really get risk,” Brooks said of the report.

Specific reasons the NERC mentioned in the report for the “insufficient operating reserves” were low power output from dams due to drought, weather-related damage to power transmission infrastructure, closures of coal and other fossil-fuel plants, and issues in the supply chain, according to Fox News.

The power outages are expected during peak usage hours, the outlet reported.

“This recent report highlights the need to stop shutting down existing capacity. We’ve seen this pattern happen,” National Rural Electric Cooperative Association  CEO Jim Matheson told Fox News.

“The report indicates the number of plants shut down earlier than anticipated, even a couple of years ago,” Matheson said.

“There’s no question that extreme weather events are creating greater demand for electricity in this country, primarily through air conditioning load,” Matheson further said, according to Fox News.

“You’ve got this circumstance for reliability being put into question by this increased demand, where, at the same time, we’re reducing our supply. Extreme weather is clearly one of the factors that’s causing it,” the former Utah congressman added.

The unreliability poses a threat to large sections of American power grids and could lead to a situation like the 2021 Texas power grid crisis, when winter storms slowed down electricity production, leading to widespread outages in-state, according to Fox News.

The failure of state authorities to ensure that the power supply was immune to colder weather contributed to the crisis, the New York Times and the Texas Tribune reported.

Matheson said in the case of the present risks to the grids in the western United States, the government can take some action to help avert a similar crisis.

“There are limits in terms of number of hours per year certain facilities can operate for environmental purposes,” Matheson said. 

“The Secretary of Energy or the EPA could waive some of those restrictions to allow for greater use of existing assets to meet these periods of shortfall,” he continued, according to Fox News.

“So, there is something right here you could do in summer of 2022 to help mitigate the situation a little, but there’s a lot more investments [that are] going to have to [be] made in the long run.”

Other solutions, according to Fox News, would be improving data sharing between power producers so they can work together to avert a crisis.

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