The power grid of heartland America could be at risk over the next several months.
Federal energy officials announced that parts of the central U.S. might have to impose rotating blackouts on the hottest days of the summer, according to Reuters.
Extreme weather is already causing more challenges for power grids across America. With heat and droughts, officials are concerned.
In addition to that, many coal and nuclear plants have been shut down during the first year of the Biden administration. The Midwest’s generating capacity is also threatened by planned maintenance and the possibility of low wind conditions.
These factors, along with forced outages, are highlighting the problems of America’s power and energy grid.
Midcontinent Independent System Operator, a major grid operator, “has already warned of potential capacity shortfalls and other reliability concerns in the north and central regions of its coverage area,” Reuters reported.
MISO operates the power grid for about 42 million Americans throughout 15 central U.S. states. It cover regions from Minnesota to Louisiana as well as the Canadian province of Manitoba.
These warnings of blackouts and power shortages are not new, though.
In the middle of May, the North American Electric Reliability Corp. released a report assessing the risks to the American power grid.
“It’s a pretty sobering report, and it’s clear the risks are spreading,” said John Moura, director of reliability assessment and performance analysis, according to Bloomberg. “I certainly do think it’s our most cautionary tale here.”
“The pace of our grid transformation is out of sync,” Moura said.
Over the past five years, MISO’s summer capacity has actually been reduced due to maintenance, weather and fuel supply limits.
MISO even had to shut down one of its biggest power plants in May. Entergy Corp’s Palisades nuclear reactor in Michigan had to be retired after more than 50 years of operation.
Changes like that are not helping the energy grid improve.
However, MISO said it has trained for worst-case scenarios this summer. Facilities are prepared to take action to maintain grid reliability.
Unfortunately, part of the worst-case scenario may be urging homes and businesses to conserve energy and imposing blackouts.
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