As extreme weather events become more frequent and supply chain problems persist, several U.S. states face elevated risks of blackouts. Outages are already happening in some parts of the USA, and utilities are working hard on maintenance and spare energy inventory.
Parts of the Western and Midwestern U.S. states are at elevated risk of blackouts this summer as utilities struggle with supply-chain problems and extreme weather events become more frequent.
Blackouts have already occurred in the Midwest at the start of the summer, while the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) asked consumers to conserve energy in May during an early heat wave at the beginning of the month.
System operators have been warning in recent weeks that the electric grid reliability could be at risk amid high summer demand and possible supply reductions.
In addition, utilities face supply-chain hurdles to procure the equipment and materials for repairs in case of outages or damages to power lines or transformers in case of heat waves, severe storms, or hurricanes.
Extreme weather, strained grids, and insufficient readily available transformers and other equipment spell trouble for utilities and system operators from California to Ohio this summer, when people are cranking up air conditioning in the heat.
Power generation availability is also strained amid droughts in the Western states hampering hydro-power electric generation, while unexpected tripping of solar PV resources could also pose issues to reliability.
In the Midwest, Midcontinent ISO (MISO) is in the high risk category, facing capacity short-falls in its north and central areas during both normal and extreme conditions due to generator retirements and increased demand.
Drought conditions could create wide-area heat events on the one hand, and affect output from thermal generators that use rivers for cooling on the other hand.
Drought could also reduce generation from hydro-power. Low water levels in the Missouri River can impact generators with once-through cooling and lead to reduced output capacity.
In May, grid operators from a growing number of U.S. states started warning about electricity shortages as grids cannot cope with the imbalance between demand and supply heading into summer.
California like Texas, for example, has warned that it would need to produce more electricity than it is currently producing to avoid blackouts. ERCOT asked consumers in early May to conserve energy after six power plants went down unexpectedly.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) initiated in mid-June two rulemakings aimed at improving the reliability of the bulk power system against the threats of short-coming maintenance extreme weather.
All these factors add to the supply-chain struggles of utilities across America. They are keeping spare inventories for the worst of the storms and heat waves, while sanctions on Russia and other countries in the world prove to be backfiring, hitting US consumers with higher energy prices.
Oil Price.com / ABC Flash Point News 2022.