Some U.S. Regions at Risk of Energy Shortfalls in Extreme Summer Conditions

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Parts of the United States could be at risk for electricity supply shortages if electricity demand peaks are higher than anticipated or if less electricity is generated than expected, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s (NERC) 2024 Summer Reliability Assessment. Under normal summer demand conditions, NERC expects the continental United States to have adequate power resources this year.

Data source: North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), 2024 Summer Reliability Assessment

No areas of the United States evaluated by NERC were considered high risk this summer, a category that means an area is at risk of outages during normal summer conditions.

Electricity demand increases as temperatures rise and homes and businesses use more air conditioning. Higher-than-normal summer temperatures can affect reliability two ways: by increasing electricity demand for air conditioning and by increasing the risk of power plant outages and reduced output from heat-related issues.

In addition, widespread heat waves can limit the typical movement of electricity because it is needed to meet increased local demand. Transmission can be limited due to the risk of overheating, natural disasters (such as wildfires), and insufficient capacity to carry energy where it needs to go. NERC also highlighted concerns over having enough resources to meet peaks in demand in recent years as baseload generation retirements have increased and variable resources such as solar and wind that have a less stable generation pattern are replacing other power plants.

Certain regions NERC assessed are at elevated risk of electricity supply shortages, which means that these areas could face electricity supply shortfalls during periods of more extreme summer conditions. These areas include parts of California, the Southwest, the Midwest, Texas, and New England.

Principal contributor: Sue Smith

Originally published on Today in Energy.

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