Drought, high temperatures could cause blackouts in large parts of the US this summer

A combination of high temperatures, extreme drought, and supply chain problems could cause blackouts from Texas to California this summer, the North American Electric Reliability Corp warned in a reliability assessment this week.

Generation and transmission projects across the United States have been delayed due to “product unavailability, shipping delays, and labor shortages” in recent years, potentially compounding the weather-related challenges the power grid will have to face.

The sun shines over towers carrying electrical lines in South San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images / Getty Images)

The Western Interconnection, which serves about 80 million people, could see lower output from hydro generators due to drought and low snow pack.


Texas, which already saw a power outage for thousands of residents in Austin earlier this month, is expected to see above average temperatures in the coming months, leading to higher demand and straining energy reserves.

Millions of Texans were left without powers during a winter storm last year, which resulted in 246 deaths, according to the Texas Department of Health.

Texas could see energy blackouts this summer

Power lines are seen on February 19, 2021, in Texas City, Texas. (Photo by THOMAS SHEA/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The Midcontinent ISO, which supplies power to people from Louisiana to the Great Lakes, could see a capacity shortfall due to a 2.3% drop in generation capacity.


“Industry prepares its equipment and operators for challenging summer conditions,” NERC manager of Reliability Assessments Mark Olson said in a statement Wednesday.

“Persistent, extreme drought and its accompanying weather patterns, however, are out of the ordinary and tend to create extra stresses on electricity supply and demand. Grid operators in affected areas will need all available tools to keep the system in balance this summer.”

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