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U.S. Grid Operators Are Bracing For A Wave Of Blackouts

Grid operators from a growing number of states are warning about electricity shortages as grids cannot cope with the imbalance between demand and supply heading into summer.

California warned on Friday that it would need to produce more electricity than it is currently producing to avoid blackouts. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), the nonprofit charged with operating the power grid in 15 U.S. states and Manitoba, issued a warning about outages during the summer. The Texas grid operator recently joined the warnings amid a heatwave that started last week and is expected to last well into this week, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In California, officials from three state agencies forecast that the electricity shortfall could reach 1,700 MW for the full year. However, this could soar to as much as 5,000 MW if the California grid's challenges do not get resolved. This means that between 1 and 4 million people are facing power shortages.

Texas is already suffering blackouts in some parts, but for now, the number of consumers affected is limited. 

"The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is anticipating extreme hot weather in the region Friday, May 6 through Monday, May 9 and may experience larger than normal demand for power," ERCOT said at the end of last week.

"ERCOT will deploy all the tools available to us to manage the grid reliably. ERCOT is coordinating closely with the Public Utility Commission, generation resource owners, and transmission utilities to ensure they are prepared for the extreme heat."

The unusually hot weather comes as states struggle to build enough battery storage capacity for their wind and solar farms in time. The WSJ cited grid operators as a warning recently that the pace of progress in battery storage capacity development was too slow to compensate for the closures of fossil fuel power plants in favor of wind and solar installations.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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