US Power Grid May Become Unreliable This Summer

According to the NERC assessment, the US power grid may become unreliable this summer due to above-average demand conditions and a decreased electrical supply, which could result from possible low wind or solar energy conditions.

US Power Grid May Become Unreliable This Summer 1

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According to a report by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), renewable energy sources like wind and solar power pose a possible risk to a dependable power supply, making it harder for some parts of America to fulfill their summertime electrical demand.

US Power Grid May Become Unreliable This Summer 2

According to the NERC assessment, for the forthcoming June–September season, several regions in the nation are at “elevated” risk for summer electrical reliability.

An area is considered to be at elevated risk if there is a “potential for insufficient operating reserves” due to above-average demand conditions. Parts of Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Illinois, and Iowa are among these regions. A decreased electrical supply could result from possible low wind or solar energy conditions, which is one of the variables used to determine increased risk.

The six regional entities that make up the North American power bulk power system (BPS) are the Texas Reliability Entity (Texas RE), Northeast Power Coordinating Council (NPCC), Midwest Reliability Organization (MRO), ReliabilityFirst (RF), SERC Reliability Corporation (SERC), and Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC). In some regions, there will be an elevated risk.

The energy capacity market is managed by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), which has operations in fifteen states in the United States, including Texas, Illinois, Montana, Arkansas, and Kentucky. According to the NERC analysis, MISO should have “sufficient resources” to handle typical summer peak demand.

It might be “challenging for MISO to meet demand, though, if above-normal peak demand conditions were to arise during a period of lower-than-expected wind and solar output.

“Wind generator performance during periods of high demand is a key factor in determining whether there is sufficient electricity supply on the system or if external (non-firm) supply assistance is required to maintain reliability.”

Around 90% of Texas’ electricity load is handled by the Texas RE ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) interconnection, which may experience emergencies in the evenings of summer “when solar generation begins to ramp down.”

Power transfers from South Texas to the San Antonio area must be limited under specific grid circumstances, which adds to the “elevated risk” of supply. When “demand is high and wind and solar output is low in specific areas, straining the transmission system,” such grid situations arise.

The WECC covers 14 states, including California and New Mexico, and estimates that “above-normal demand and low-resource conditions” pose a risk to energy reliability in those locations. According to the research, this kind of scenario arises when solar output is low or imports are below average.

The CEO of America’s Power, a coalition of businesses engaged in the coal-producing industry, Michelle Bloodworth, commented on the NERC report and said it shows that the US electrical grid is becoming more and more dependent on weather-dependent electricity sources, such as solar and wind power.

This places “one-third of the country at elevated risk of blackouts this summer,” she stated, adding that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulations are the only reason such risks are expected to rise.

“Delayed coal plant retirements are playing a key role in supporting grid reliability. However, this is only a temporary band-aid because EPA regulations will cause more coal retirements that cannot be delayed. These regulations, especially the recently announced Carbon Rule, increase the chance of blackouts,” Ms. Bloodworth said.

“With electricity demand exploding, our country needs a strategy for ensuring a healthy long-term electricity supply that doesn’t depend on the sun and the wind and is not dictated by EPA regulations.”

Supported by the EPA, renewable energy “produces no greenhouse gas emissions” in comparison to fossil fuels and lowers some forms of air pollution. Additionally, renewable energy can lessen America’s “dependency on imported fuels.”

Under the “Solar for All” program, the EPA announced last month that $7 billion in funding would be available to install residential solar panels in over 900,000 homes nationwide. There are sixty recipients of the grants.

Administrator of the EPA Michael S. Regan stated, “The selectees will advance solar energy initiatives across the country, creating hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs, saving $8 billion in energy costs for families, delivering cleaner air, and combating climate change.”

New EPA Rule

The NERC analysis was released concurrently with the EPA’s announcement on April 25 of a set of final rules meant to minimize pollution from fossil fuel-fired power facilities.

All new baseload gas-fired plants and long-term coal-fired plants must reduce their carbon pollution by 90 percent in order to comply with the new regulations.

The regulations also require a 70% drop in the mercury emissions threshold from current lignite-fired sources and a 67% tightening of the toxic metals emissions guideline for coal plants. Regulations governing the handling of coal ash and wastewater discharge from coal-fired power stations are also reinforced.

According to the EPA, the new regulations fulfill the pledge made by the Biden administration to safeguard the public’s health in every community. The agency said the rules will deliver “hundreds of billions of dollars in net benefits.”

“The regulatory impact analysis projects reductions of 1.38 billion metric tons of carbon pollution overall through 2047, which is equivalent to preventing the annual emissions of 328 million gasoline cars, or to nearly an entire year of emissions from the entire U.S. electric power sector. It also projects up to $370 billion in climate and public health net benefits over the next two decades,” the EPA said.

Additionally, the EPA projects that in 2035 alone, the regulations will prevent up to 1,200 premature deaths, 1,900 cases of asthma start, 360,000 occurrences of asthma symptoms, and 57,000 missed workdays.

“By developing these standards in a clear, transparent, inclusive manner, EPA is cutting pollution while ensuring that power companies can make smart investments and continue to deliver reliable electricity for all Americans,” Mr. Regan said.

Jim Matheson, the CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, a trade group representing electrical cooperatives, has expressed disapproval of the energy requirements.

“The path outlined by the EPA is unlawful, unrealistic, and unachievable,” he said. “It undermines electric reliability and poses grave consequences for an already stressed electric grid. This barrage of new EPA rules ignores our nation’s ongoing electric reliability challenges and is the wrong approach at a critical time for our nation’s energy future.”

According to Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), President Biden has “doubled down” on his intentions to shut down the “backbone of America’s electric grid” as evidenced by the EPA regulations.

“Electricity demand is set to skyrocket thanks in part to the EPA’s own electric vehicles mandate, and unfortunately, Americans are already paying higher utility bills under President Biden,” she said.

“Despite all this, the administration has chosen to press ahead with its unrealistic climate agenda that threatens access to affordable, reliable energy for households and employers across the country.”

Due to this electricity shortage, as reported by GreatGameIndia, Holtec, the top U.S. manufacturer of storage equipment for nuclear waste, is driving the nuclear revolution in the U.S. by reopening cold reactors and investing in small modular reactors (SMRs).

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