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NRECA: Reliability Assessment a ‘Dire Warning’ about Power Grid Capabilities

May 17, 2023
A recent NERC reliability assessment found that two-thirds of North America may be affected by electricity supply shortages if heat waves prove severe.

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Jim Matheson called for federal energy policies to be more in tune with the problems facing utilities today, including challenges to power grid reliability.

The statement was in reply to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s summer 2023 reliability assessment, which found that two-thirds of North America may be affected by electricity supply shortages due to heat waves.

“This report is an especially dire warning that America’s ability to keep the lights on has been jeopardized,” Matheson said. “That’s unacceptable. The decisions we make today determine whether utilities across the nation have the resources to power the American economy tomorrow. Federal policies must recognize the compromised reliability reality facing the nation before it’s too late.

NERC’s assessment found that while resources are adequate for normal summer peak demand, demand may be higher than normal in seven areas, including the U.S. West, the Southwest Power Pool, the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, the SERC Central, New England Independent System Operator and Ontario.

“American families and businesses expect the lights to stay on at a cost they can afford. But that’s no longer a guarantee. Nine states saw rolling blackouts last December as the demand for electricity exceeded available supply. And proposals like last week’s EPA power plant rule will greatly compound the problem. Absent a major shift in state and federal energy policy, this is the reality we will face for years to come. It’s vital that policymakers work to prioritize reliability in every energy policy discussion.”

NRECA identified several causes for reliable power delivery at the moment, including higher demand due to electrification of transportation and housing; falling supply due to plant retirements; permitting delays for new transmission and other grid infrastructure; natural gas supply issues; and supply chain challenges.

Earlier in May, commissioners with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission testified to the Senate that the U.S. may be heading for a “catastrophic” reliability problem.

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