California, Texas… What’s the next victim of Rolling Blackouts? The next is the entire West of the US. Yes, you read it right; the West is under a big threat as the temperature continues rising substantially, while about a dozen of states are not prepared to fight against hot summer.
The CEO of California Independent System Operator Elliot Mainzer, responsible for the state’s grid, stated that the Californian situation of last year summer blackouts happens now in different states of the West. The grid managers have wanted that though they are better prepared this summer, the risk of power outages is not completely eliminated. The California crisis last year was a signal that the entire region has a gap to cover. Indeed, the neighboring states were strained to keep their power up, relying heavily on imports. These imports become a huge problem when the temperature is high in the entire region, states needing the power themselves rather than sending it out. The Western Electricity Coordinating Council overseeing the grids of the western US and Canada estimated that Nevada, Utah and Colorado could be short of power for 34 days if not getting imports. As for Arizona and New Mexico, without imports, they would have 17-day shutoffs. So, reliance on imports brings additional problems for states to overcome, especially if the wildfires harm the transmission lines.
The problem here can be the fact that the closing of coal and gas-fired power plants was abrupt while replacing them with renewable energy is not as quick as expected. Therefore, the state’s grid becomes vulnerable to climate extremities that frequently happen in this region. Nowadays, heatwave, wildfires, and drought become a common thing within these states which puts a higher pressure on the grids. Climate change made it harder and harder to predict future electricity needs. Record-breaking heat waves and cold bring surprises that electricity managers are challenged to overcome. This year more than 84% of the Western lands is expected to suffer from drought.
California is among the most prepared states for this summer. It installed giant batteries plugged by 1500 megawatts power, as well as postponed the shutdowns of gas plants. As for imports, it increased the price cap for the power supply to attract more imports into the state. Other states should follow California and diversify their energy as much as possible to overcome the challenge of climate change and rolling blackouts.
The author of a publication: Elen Gevorgyan