Blackouts and Grid Issues Likely This Summer in Parts of the U.S.

By Nick Pipitone

It could be a tough summer for parts of the U.S., with several regions facing an increased risk of power outages due to extreme weather. According to a dire assessment by the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), Texas, Southern California, and the central and upper Midwest could experience blackouts and grid issues because of extreme heat, wildfires, and droughts.

In California and on the West Coast, dry conditions may threaten the availability of hydroelectric energy. California may be able to meet power demands this summer, but a repeat of the so-called “heat dome” in the Western U.S. in 2019 could reduce the availability of imported power that California depends on and cause energy emergencies. Western wildfires also threaten energy resources, with ignition and smoke from wildfires diminishing output from utility- and customer-owned solar panels and short-circuiting high-voltage power lines.

Grid officials in Texas are more optimistic, but NERC’s report means many energy officials in these regions are preparing now. This summer, the times with the highest risks for residents and commercial real estate would be early evening when solar power diminishes. How bad things get depends on how extreme the weather events and heat waves are this summer. Property owners in these regions would be wise to make their own emergency plans, including investing in backup power generation.

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