Americans will need to brace for deadly blackouts under a hotter-than-usual summer, warned a major energy non-profit in a sobering report last week.
On Wednesday, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) released its annual summer assessment covering June through September with grim predictions of repeated blackouts throughout the country. The entire western United States, along with a majority of the Midwest, Texas, and the western south, face “high” or “elevated” risks of “energy emergencies” brought by severe drought, unreliable solar, and supply chain issues hampering conventional sources.
“We’ve been doing this for close to 30 years,” NERC Director of Reliability Assessment and Performance Analysis John Moura told CBS News. “This is probably one of the grimmest pictures we’ve painted in a while.”
Last week, the summer outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast temperatures above what the agency considers normal compared to the prior 143 years with relatively low precipitation across much of the west and the plains.
Lack of water and higher-than-normal temperatures are expected to stress the nation’s power grid beyond capacity. Low water levels, the NERC emphasizes, will limit plants’ ability to keep cool while directly reducing power generated by hydroelectric dams.
“Energy output from hydro generators throughout most of the Western United States is being affected by widespread drought and below-normal snowpack,” the authors wrote.
Solar panels, on the other hand, will be unable to generate power from the sun once clouded out by smoke from wildfires, seemingly worse every year as a consequence of negligent land management. Critically, Moura told BNN Bloomberg the early retirement of fossil fuel plants shares much of the blame for this year’s vulnerabilities in the nation’s energy infrastructure.
“The pace of our grid transformation is out of sync,” Moura told the paper as President Joe Biden rushes to promote unreliable renewables in the place of reliable, lower-cost coal and natural gas. At the same time, the Biden administration is shutting down domestic energy projects in the form of fossil fuels even as gas prices continue to reach new records daily.
Larry Behrens, the communications director for the energy non-profit Power the Future, blamed the coming blackouts on “the failed green agenda,” highlighting New Mexico as a prime example.
“In New Mexico, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has forced the state to embrace her own ‘mini’ Green New Deal and now the state faces blackouts as reliable power is abandoned while hard-working men and women lose their jobs,” Behrens told The Federalist.
Grisham signed the climate package in 2019 during her first year in office. It mandates state electricity completely carbon-free by 2045. PNM, the state’s largest power provider, warned of outages in February.
“Make no mistake,” Behrens added, “this is all a man-made energy crisis on the part of leaders who worship at the altar of the green agenda while plunging our country into the dark ages.”
California and Texas have already begun to experience periodic blackouts as a consequence of a rushed transition to intermittent power sources by wind and solar. The rolling blackouts in California fueled in part the September recall effort against Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Power outages are deadly episodes, especially during heat waves when air conditioning no longer becomes available to the elderly. Last summer, officials in Washington attributed the deaths of two women in their 60s to overheating as regional energy distributors implemented rolling blackouts due to overwhelming demand amid a heatwave. Legacy outlets wrongly blamed climate change for the high temperatures.