NERC assessment warns of summer power outages

Extreme heat could threaten the nation’s energy supply this summer, driving up demand for electricity and potentially causing shortfalls and power outages throughout large swaths of the U.S., the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) warned in a new report.

The states and regions most at risk are Texas, California, the Southwest, New England and much of the Midwest, according to NERC’s 2024 Summer Reliability Assessment. The warnings underscore the danger of the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent power plant rule, which threatens reliability by forcing the premature closure of power plants at a time when demand for electricity is rising, said National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Jim Matheson. On June 5, lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced a resolution to overturn the EPA rule.

“This latest report highlights the importance of always-available energy as our nation works to keep the lights on,” Matheson said. “That’s particularly true as we look toward a future that depends on electricity to power more of the economy. Importantly, this report does not consider the impact of EPA’s power plant rule, which will significantly undermine reliable electricity across the nation.”

The NERC report said that “weather services are expecting above-average summer temperatures across much of North America, potentially creating challenging summer grid conditions.” With most areas forecasting higher peak demand for electricity than last summer, the report added, “Above-average seasonal temperatures can contribute to high peak demand as well as an increase in forced outages for generation and some bulk power system equipment.”

NERC found that the delayed retirements of fossil fuel-powered plants coupled with limited new supply “have improved the outlook for 2024” compared to some earlier reports. However, NERC also found that “a growing number of areas in North America face adequacy risks as early as 2025.”