With energy costs rising, a hotter than expected summer, and an aging electric grid, experts are warning that rolling blackouts commonly seen in California may spread to the rest of the country, even to New York.
A leading regulatory authority that oversees the national power grid, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), warned that the highly weak state of the power grid could lead to rolling blackouts across the Midwest this summer.
NERC’s 2022 Summer Reliability Assessment describes the states of Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan as being particularly at risk. An aging power grid, a damaged transmission line from December carrying power to parts of Arkansas and Louisiana, and a 2% decrease in generation capacity compared to last summer are key reasons why the Midwest is at high risk, Bloomberg reports.
A warmer than expected summer is projected to further raise demand levels for electricity, as power supply, especially in the Midwest, are simultaneously squeezed.
John Moura, the director of reliability assessment and performance analysis at the NERC, said at a press conference that the report is “sobering” and “the risks are spreading.”
Although California is used to blackouts, the state of California is threatened by yet another summer of strain on its electric grid, Scientific American writes.
California is not the only place in the West that may be affected. Locations from Texas up to Saskatchewan, Canada, are listed as having possibly acute problems because of drought. Fears of extreme peak demand and supply chain issues in Texas, as well as resource capacity reaching peak demand in Saskatchewan, are key stressors.
Additionally, more broad fears of limited output from hydroelectric dams because of the drought, as well as reports of low levels of power plant cooling water drawn from the Missouri River, are additionally expressed in the NERC’s report.
In an interview with Newsmax Finance, Dr. Jonathan Lesser, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and an economic consultant, says the shutdown of traditional energy sources is doing great harm to the economy.
“We have been shutting down coal plants, shutting down nuclear plants and trying to replace them with wind and solar, so that means the likelihood of rolling blackouts and extreme weather goes up,” Lesser explains. “It is not must the Midwest. New York is facing blackouts possibly with the retirement of Indian Point last year. It is a real possibility.
“In my own state of New Mexico, there is a large coal plant in the northwest part of the state and the regulators now are pointing fingers, saying now there may be blackouts,” Lesser continues. “This, to me, is completely irresponsible shutting down a plant to ‘save the environment’, but with no backup plan to replace it. That is crazy.”
Lesser takes issue with environmentalists pushing the shutdown of energy sources in favor of renewables, saying, “Environmentalists and the policymakers who want to establish their ‘green bonfires’ do not have a clue how the electrical grid works and what is required to maintain reliable electricity, and what I find ironic is the same people who are screaming to electrify everything with cars — that means electricity becomes more important and demand increases. The environmentalists seem to forget about that supply-side aspect.”
Perhaps most alarming of all, Lesser warns the possibility of rolling blackouts could cause civil unrest among Americans, noting, “I cannot imagine if you told me two to three years ago, the US would have an electric system like Beirut where the power is on a few hours a day, I would say that is crazy, but now, I don’t know. If power shutdowns do happen on a regular basis in this country, you are going to see people go crazy, they will demand something be done, so I could see possible civil unrest.”
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