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This summer, two-thirds of North America may be affected by power outages due to extreme temperatures.

The power grid’s reliability will be put to the test by the heatwave that has left tens of millions of Americans suffering.

When temperatures soar, people and businesses turn on their air conditioners to cool off, straining the power grid. Problems at power facilities brought on by the extreme heat might limit supply at the same time that demand is skyrocketing.

Power grid officials have warned that a hot summer might cause widespread outages across the United States.

During times of peak demand this summer, “two-thirds of North America is at risk of energy shortages,” the North American Energy Reliability Corporation (NERC) found in its summer outlook issued last month.

There may be power outages throughout the entire region west of the Mississippi River, as reported by NERC, amid “extreme conditions.” All of the Western United States, the Midwest, and Central Texas are included in this. According to NERC, there is also a “elevated” danger of blackouts in New England and Ontario.

With conventional generator retirements, a significant rise in predicted peak demand, and the growing likelihood of a broad heat event, NERC has warned of a “elevated risk outlook.”

The good news is that authorities anticipate there will be enough electricity in the grid to meet average peak summer demand. Only when temperatures soar can blackouts become a real possibility.

The South and Central United States, however, are seeing record-breaking temperatures. On Monday, about 40 million people in Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama are subject to heat warnings and advisories.

Temperatures above 110 degrees Fahrenheit have been predicted for the deserts of West Texas. Temperatures may approach or even exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit in certain areas. The heat wave, according to meteorologists, may last throughout the first part of next week.

Hotter-than-average temperatures are possible for the next three months across a large portion of the United States.

The most current forecast issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicates that a large portion of the Pacific Northwest, Southwest, Texas, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast have the highest probability of seeing temperatures that are higher than average during the course of the next 90 days.

Whether or not the electrical grid holds up depends on a number of unknowns.

As coal-fired power facilities phase out, the grid must rely more and more on renewable energy sources like wind and solar to keep up with surging demand. However, there are times when the conditions don’t allow these renewable power sources to produce enough electricity to meet demand.

Wind power’s intermittent nature—wind turbines only produce electricity when the wind blows, and the amount of electricity they produce depends on the wind’s strength—presents operational challenges for grid operators, according to analysts with the US Energy Information Administration in a report released on Monday. Energy emergencies may occur during times of low wind and heavy demand.

The two power grid regions that encompass the vast majority of the central United States rely heavily on wind generation to meet demand in Texas and their respective areas. Drought and low water levels in large reservoirs are potentially potential threats to hydropower.

Coal-fired generators’ ability to operate in 23 states, including Nevada, Utah, and states around the Gulf Coast, mid-Atlantic, and Midwest, has been threatened by new environmental standards that restrict emissions. This is the first summer since the EPA’s Good Neighbour Plan went into effect, which attempts to lessen the amount of smog that travels across state lines from power plants and other industrial facilities.

Some power facilities have put off or cancelled summer maintenance because of supply chain and worker scarcity issues affecting the electrical grid.

Specifically, NERC expressed concern that efforts to restart power facilities in the wake of hurricanes and severe storms could be hampered by a lack of replacement transformers.

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