US states facing further blackouts this summer

heatwave, renewables (US blackouts)
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US electricity grid operators are warning that generation capacity is struggling to keep up with demand, which could lead to widespread blackouts during summer heatwaves, according to The Wall Street Journal.

California’s grid operator said it anticipated a shortfall in supplies this summer, especially in the event of extreme heat, wildfires or delays in bringing new power sources online.

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator, or MISO, also said capacity shortages could require emergency measures to meet summer demand and flagged the risk of outages.

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Texas’ grid operator also warned of tight conditions during a heatwave expected to last another week.

The risk of electricity shortages is rising throughout the US as traditional power plants are being retired more quickly than they can be replaced by renewable energy and battery storage.

Power grids are feeling the strain as the US’s energy transition moves from conventional coal and gas fired power plants to renewables, and ageing nuclear plants are slated for retirement in many parts of the country.

Faced with the prospect of blackouts when demand exceeds supply, many grid operators are now grappling with the same problem: How to encourage the build-out of batteries and other new technologies while keeping traditional power plants from closing too quickly.

“Every market around the world is trying to deal with the same issue,” said Brad Jones, interim chief executive of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s power grid.

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“We’re all trying to find ways to utilise as much of our renewable resources as possible…and at the same time make sure that we have enough dispatchable generation to manage reliability.”

California regulators said as much as 3,800MW of new supplies may face delays through 2025. These delays would pose a major challenge for the state, which is racing to procure a huge amount of renewable energy and storage to offset the closure of several gas-fired power plants, as well as a nuclear plant.

Gavin Newsom recently said he would consider moving to keep that nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, online to reduce the risk of shortages.

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