'It's Going To Get Much Worse': Babies Have No Formula & Now, Experts Warn Biden Steering U.S. To This

By Gil Cohen | Saturday, 14 May 2022 19:25
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Officials and grid operators across the country are warning of high energy costs and rolling blackouts throughout the summer when peak electricity demand runs up against generating capacity constraints.

The alarms indicate several problems facing power grids across the country, including, in some regions, the trouble utilities are facing with power while moving away from fossil fuels and toward renewable sources, a process that Democrats and environmentalists want to see quickened but which many Republicans and fossil fuel industry interests are trying to curb.

Power grids face other problems counting on the region, but several operators have been cautioning that tight capacity margins could lead to deficiencies in extreme heat or weather events that damage transmission.

California regulators cautioned last week that the state may again face rolling blackouts in coming months when high temperatures cause a hike in demand or if wildfires require utilities to take transmission offline, as in years past.

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“We know reliability is going to be difficult,” said California Public Utilities Commission President Alice Reynolds. The state already announced plans last year to build five natural gas-fired plants to help augment strained capacity and prevent outages.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which oversees grid operations in most of the state, cautioned about a possible deficient reserve capacity earlier this month. ERCOT pointed to planned outages at generating stations as it expected a surge in demand because of high temperatures.

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Some areas subsequently saw extremely high wholesale electricity prices on Monday, including Houston, where prices jumped as high as $5,500 per megawatt-hour.

In Austin, public utility Austin Energy cut power to about 3,600 customers on Saturday due to a surge in demand. The utility said the actions “were necessary to safely operate Austin Energy’s distribution system” and deal with the excess.

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The grid operator for neighboring Louisiana and all or parts of 14 other states, Midcontinent Independent System Operator, announced revived expectations of capacity shortfalls in mid-April and later forecast peak summer demand to surpass regularly available generation by five gigawatts.

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MISO said capacity shortfalls in its north and central regions, traveling from Manitoba, Canada, down to Illinois and Indiana, are particularly sharp. It said it would depend more heavily on imports from outside grids such as neighboring PJM, and “emergency procedures,” to maintain reliability when shortages occur.

“The reality for the zones that do not have sufficient generation to cover their load plus their required reserves is that they will have an increased risk of temporary, controlled outages to maintain system reliability,” Clair Moeller, MISO’s President and chief operating officer, said in a statement last month. Moeller said further customers in those zones “may also face higher costs to procure power when it is scarce.”

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