North American Electric Reliability Corp issues grim outlook for winter electricity reliability

Last week, the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) issued its 2021–2022 Winter Reliability Assessment. The findings were sobering.

According to Power Magazine:

[The report] warned that much of the central U.S.—a region that stretches from the Great Lakes into southern Texas—may face critical power deficiencies during extreme winter weather conditions over the next three months. Natural gas supply disruptions and low hydropower conditions could also imperil power reliability in New England and the West. 

NERC also called on grid operators to prepare and implement cold weather operating plans, conduct drills, and poll generators for fuel and availability status. Load-serving entities should review critical loads to prevent disruptions, and regulators should support requested environmental waivers, it said.

The ERO’s dire report echoes its May-issued summer assessment, when it warned of “elevated risks” for energy emergencies in Texas, New England, in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) territory, and parts of the West.

In its bulk power system (BPS) reliability assessment for the next three months—December 2021 through February 2022—NERC suggests extreme weather risks, including soaring peak demand or generator outages that exceed forecasts, “can be expected to cause energy emergencies” in regions that have previously suffered cold-weather reliability debacles. These include MISO, the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

Grid operators and reliability organizations have been warning of eroding reliability of the electric grid for years.

This is even true in California, where the California Indepedent Systems Operator (CAISO) has warned of looming capacity shortfalls, only to be ignored by politicians who wanted to shut down reliable power plants in favor of building more wind and solar power. Unforunately, these warnings are almost always ignored, and we may pay the price this winter.