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Rolling Blackouts Could Creep Eastward

By Maxwell Newman

With energy costs rising, a hotter than expected summer, and an aging electric grid, experts are warning that rolling blackouts commonly seen in California may spread to the rest of the country, even to New York.

A leading regulatory authority that oversees the national power grid, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), warned that the highly weak state of the power grid could lead to rolling blackouts across the Midwest this summer.

NERC’s 2022 Summer Reliability Assessment describes the states of Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan as being particularly at risk. An aging power grid, a damaged transmission line from December carrying power to parts of Arkansas and Louisiana, and a 2% decrease in generation capacity compared to last summer are key reasons why the Midwest is at high risk, Bloomberg reports.

A warmer than expected summer is projected to further raise demand levels for electricity, as power supply, especially in the Midwest, are simultaneously squeezed.

John Moura, the director of reliability assessment and performance analysis at the NERC, said at a press conference that the report is “sobering” and “the risks are spreading.”

Although California is used to blackouts, the state of California is threatened by yet another summer of strain on its electric grid, Scientific American writes.

California is not the only place in the West that may be affected. Locations from Texas up to Saskatchewan, Canada, are listed as having possibly acute problems because of drought. Fears of extreme peak demand and supply chain issues in Texas, as well as resource capacity reaching peak demand in Saskatchewan, are key stressors.

Additionally, more broad fears of limited output from hydroelectric dams because of the drought, as well as reports of low levels of power plant cooling water drawn from the Missouri River, are additionally expressed in the NERC’s report.