NERC Warns Two-Thirds of North America at Risk of Energy Shortfalls

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation has issued a stark warning in its 2023 Summer Reliability Assessment. If temperatures skyrocket this summer, two-thirds of the North American electrical grid could face energy shortfalls due to high demand. The U.S. Energy Information Administration featured NERC’s assessment in a recent analysis, saying, “above-normal summer temperatures further push up demand and can reduce electricity supply if power plant outages or reduced output stem from heat-related issues.”

Should temperatures spike this summer, many homes and businesses will adjust their air conditioning, accordingly, increasing electricity demand. As the EIA notes, if power plants experience outages, heat-related emergencies—or even natural disasters—the energy supply will also take a significant hit, worsening an already fragile situation. Additionally, heat waves could impact the transfer of electricity across grids, subsequently affecting the local energy supply needed to meet a heightened demand.

According to NERC, all 20 assessment areas have sufficient power resources to meet the normal peak summer electricity demand. However, the U.S. Western Interconnection, SPP, MISO, ERCOT, SERC-Central, and New England power grids all have an elevated risk of electricity supply shortage should there be extreme heat or weather events this summer.  

NERC’s reliability assessment should be an alarm bell for decision makers across the country that we must strengthen, reinforce, and protect our energy supply chains. Given the EPA’s recently proposed power plant rule that would effectively shut down hundreds of natural gas and oil plants across the country by 2040, regulators are not taking this potential threat seriously enough. Instead of coercing a transition to renewable energy technologies through government mandates on private industry, the U.S. must recognize an all-of-the-above approach to energy security is the only viable path forward. Hopefully our North American summer is an uneventful one this year.

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