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Central U.S. May Face Power Outages During Peak Summer Demand

Expectations of higher electricity demand this summer and possible supply reductions have raised concerns that the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) balancing authority could face tight reserve margins during peak summer demand, the EIA said on Friday.

Balancing authorities have to ensure that wholesale electric power markets have enough electric generation capacity to meet consumer demand, both in real time and over several years.

MISO, the balancing authority of 15 central U.S. states, expects, in theory, enough available power generating capacity for the summer months. Yet, planned and forced outages could reduce the capacity available, the EIA said.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) said in its recent 2022 summer assessment that “MISO faces a capacity shortfall in its North and Central areas, resulting in high risk of energy emergencies during peak summer conditions.”

Moreover, drought conditions create heightened reliability risk for the summer, NERC said in its report. Drought conditions could create wide-area heat events on the one hand, and affect output from thermal generators that use rivers for cooling, on the other hand. Drought could also reduce generation from hydropower. Low water levels in the Missouri River can impact generators with once-through cooling and lead to reduced output capacity, NERC warned in its report.

In another key finding, NERC said that “unexpected tripping of solar photovoltaic (PV) resources during grid disturbances continues to be a reliability concern.”

As early as last month, grid operators from a growing number of U.S. states started warning about electricity shortages as grids cannot cope with the imbalance between demand and supply heading into summer. California, for example, has warned that it would need to produce more electricity than it is currently producing to avoid blackouts.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said this week that electricity demand in Texas is set to hit a record high next week amid hot weather and growing economic activity. ERCOT, however, said it had sufficient available capacity to meet the high demand.

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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