Energy Officials Issue 'Sobering' Warning About Widespread Summer Blackouts Triggered by Closure of Fossil Fuel Plants
Blackouts could hit much of America’s Midwest and West this summer, according to a risk assessment from the North American Electric Reliability Corp.
“It’s a pretty sobering report, and it’s clear the risks are spreading,” John Moura, director of reliability assessment and performance analysis for the regulatory body, said in a news briefing, according to Bloomberg.
“I certainly do think it’s our most cautionary tale here,” he said.
One of the issues is that in the rush to shutter plants powered by fossil fuels, energy providers have not made up for that capacity loss with other forms of energy.
“The pace of our grid transformation is out of sync” with what consumers need, Moura said.
“We see this risk widening, more resources retiring at an accelerated pace,” he said, according to the Washington Examiner.
In the Midwest, Americans will face a power crunch because generating capacity is down 2.3 percent from a year ago. However, demand is expected to be high as Americans try to resume their pre-pandemic lifestyles.
A heat wave or low wind speeds that limit what wind farms can produce could trigger issues for power companies.
Further interruptions are expected as aging coal-fired power plants that are being called upon to produce more electricity break down more often, Moura said.
He cited the example of gas-fired plants in Texas that recently shut down during a heat wave.
@NERC_Official 2022 Summer Reliability Assessment warns that several parts of North America are at elevated or high risk of energy shortfalls this summer due to predicted above-normal temperatures and drought conditions. Announcement: https://t.co/HEzyZ75Ute pic.twitter.com/RizYfjIUe9
— NERC (@NERC_Official) May 18, 2022
The report said a drought affecting the West could have a direct impact on power production by limiting what hydroelectric dams might produce.
Other issues are man-made, including supply chain snags that are delaying solar energy projects in the Southwest and the completion of vital transmission lines.
oh and not to be the bearer of bad news, but along with record high prices of…. everything, you’re going to see massive rolling blackouts all summer across the country. turns out wind and solar aren’t reliable enough to power large grids… or any grids.
— Jack Inoff (@yung1hardaway) May 19, 2022
Forbes Editor-in-chief Steve Forbes said policy failures are part of the problem.
“The problem isn’t that we’ll be experiencing an unforeseeable surge in electricity; it’s that bad government policies have created shortages,” he wrote Thursday on Forbes.
“Chief among these are the mandates that utilities use more and more so-called renewable sources of energy — primarily from windmills and solar panels — while pressuring them to shut down fossil-fuel-fired generating plants and to decommission nuclear facilities,” Forbes wrote.
In this episode of #WhatsAhead, @SteveForbesCEO lays out why we are in for serious power outages this summer. pic.twitter.com/VZJFuOKVfw
— Forbes (@Forbes) May 19, 2022
“The trouble is that alternative energy sources are expensive and pose their own serious environmental hazards. And they are not replacing the output of power that those closed traditional facilities produced,” he said.
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