Central US could face power outages during peak summer demand

Expectations of higher electricity demand this summer and possible supply cuts have raised concerns that the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) balancing authority will face tight reserve margins for the peak of summer demand, the EIA said on Friday.

Balancing authorities must ensure that wholesale electricity markets have sufficient electricity generation capacity to meet consumer demand, both in real time and over several years.

MISO, the balancing authority for 15 central US states, expects, in theory, to have enough power generation capacity for the summer months. Still, planned and enforced outages could reduce available capacity, the EIA said.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) stated in its recent Summer 2022 assessment that “MISO faces a lack of capacity in its northern and central regions, resulting in a high risk of power emergencies during peak summer conditions”.

Additionally, drought conditions create increased reliability risk for the summer, NERC said in its report. Drought conditions could on the one hand create extended heat episodes and affect the production of thermal generators that use rivers for cooling, on the other hand. Drought could also reduce hydropower generation. Low water levels in the Missouri River can impact generators with once-through cooling and lead to reduced generating capacity, NERC warned in its report.

In another key finding, NERC said “unexpected tripping of solar photovoltaic (PV) resources during grid disturbances continues to be a reliability issue.”

As early as last month, grid operators in a growing number of US states began warning about power shortages as grids cannot cope with the imbalance between demand and supply as they approach. of summer. California, for example, has warned that it would have to produce more electricity than it currently produces to avoid blackouts.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said this week that electricity demand in Texas is expected to hit a record high next week amid warm weather and growing economic activity. ERCOT, however, said it has enough spare capacity to meet the high demand.

By Charles Kennedy for

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