As temperatures climb, attention is turning toward the nation’s power grids and whether they can handle the added demand this summer.
Though the Northeast should fare well, much of the US is facing an elevated risk of power blackouts between June and September, according to a report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).
The risk assessment found that the entire western half of the US is in the “elevated” risk category, meaning the potential for insufficient operating reserves in above-normal conditions.
Regulators said a number of factors could disrupt the power supply, including drought, supply chain issues, and potential cyber attacks.
States from the Midwest down to Arkansas and Louisiana are facing a high risk of blackouts thanks to a 2.3% drop in generation capacity compared to summer of 2021, according to NERC.
In California, energy officials are especially concerned about outages brought on by drought conditions, which can shut down hydroelectric dams.
There’s also the ever-present threat of wildfires, which can sever power lines or prompt utility officials to preemptively shut down certain lines to prevent the sparking of new fires.
Authorities have already warned California residents that more than one million homes could see power shutoffs at some point this summer, according to KTLA in Los Angeles.
Texas residents could also be looking at summer blackouts thanks to extreme drought conditions and a greater demand for electricity, according to NERC.
In the Northeast, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts are all in the Low risk category for blackouts, meaning sufficient operating reserves are expected.
However, those same states will likely see above normal temperatures in the coming months, according to an extended outlook from the National Weather Service (NWS).
Much of the West will also see above normal summer temperatures, according to NWS.
NERC also warned that heightened geopolitical tensions with Russia and other countries could result in cyber attacks on the nation’s electrical infrastructure.
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