Prepare for Power Outages This Summer
Several states are warning of power grid failures this summer. Here's how you can prepare.
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The Wall Street Journal reports that power companies across the United States are warning of power shortages this summer, especially in California, the Midwest, and Texas.
There are a few reasons for this:
Extreme heat is anticipated, which means more air conditioning, which means more strain on the grid.
In a rush to switch to renewables, states are taking fossil fuel plants offline, and solar and wind can’t keep up, especially since…
…states can’t build out solar plants as quickly as they’d like due to supply constraints, including the Commerce Department halting imports of Chinese polysilicon, a key component in solar panels.
Texas has a power grid that’s completely isolated from the rest of the country, which means it can’t easily import extra electricity or export excess electricity.
From California, Reuters reports:
In an online briefing with reporters, the officials forecast a potential shortfall of 1,700 megawatts this year, a number that could go as high as 5,000 MW if the grid is taxed by multiple challenges that reduce available power while sending demand soaring, state officials said during an online briefing with reporters.
Supply gaps along those lines could leave between 1 million and 4 million people without power. Outages will only happen under extreme conditions, officials cautioned and will depend in part on the success of conservation measures.
Much of the problem in California is a result of a hasty transition to renewables combined with a supply chain crunch. In other words, California is shutting down power plants faster than it’s able to replace them:
At the same time, many solar farms and energy storage projects the state has commissioned over the last two years were delayed due to supply chain challenges during the pandemic and a recent federal trade probe into solar imports.
Meanwhile, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), which serves much of the Midwest and central Canada is issuing similar warnings. “The reality for the zones that do not have sufficient generation to cover their load plus their required reserves is that they will have increased risk of temporary, controlled outages to maintain system reliability,” said MISO president Clair Moeller. MISO is seeing prices skyrocket due to the shutting down of coal-fired plants.
In Texas, the problem isn’t so much with renewables, but with extreme heat combined with the fact that the Texas power grid is segregated from the rest of the country.