While NERC's risk scenario analysis shows adequate resources and power for much of North America, in other regions it says there is an "elevated risk" of power emergencies, such as California and Texas, as rising temperatures are causing snowmelt to occur earlier in the year and leaving less water available for midsummer power generation.
The situation will especially affect the Western Interconnection and the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), which manages the electric grid and wholesale power market for the central United States. The Midcontinent ISO (MISO), which operates in the Midwest, is also in the "elevated risk" category, as it faces a capacity shortfall in its northern and central zones due to generator retirements and increased demand. In addition, at the start of the summer, MISO will be without a key transmission line connecting its north and south zones because it is being restored after being damaged by a tornado in December 2021.
According to the NERC report, in the western interconnection, widespread drought and below-normal snowpack may result in below-average hydroelectric generation output, threatening the availability of electricity throughout the interconnection. In Texas, heat episodes across the state, coupled with the drought, may lead to peak demand for air conditioning (and thus electrticity) and tighter reserve conditions. The drought also affects the Missouri River basin and low water levels may affect the thermal generators that cool the SPP transmission line.
"The industry is preparing its equipment for the difficult summer conditions. However, the persistent, extreme drought and accompanying weather patterns are extraordinary and tend to create additional stresses on electricity supply and demand," says Mark Olson, director of Reliability Assessments at NERC. "Grid operators in affected areas will need every tool available."
The study also notes that the power sector and other critical infrastructure in the U.S. face cybersecurity threats from Russia in addition to ongoing cyber risks. It also warns of potential reliability issues due to unexpected outages of solar PV resources during grid disturbances. And it forecasts an active late summer wildfire season in the western United States and Canada, posing yet another risk to electric system reliability.