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Industry, Government Agencies Have U.S. on Notice for Likely Electricity Black-Outs this Winter

The North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), an entity representing industry and government experts, has the United States on notice for blackouts this winter. Its 2023-2024 Winter Reliability Assessment, released in November, covering December through February, states as one of its “Key Findings,” regarding the bulk power system (BPS) to supply interconnected regions:

“A large portion of the North American BPS is at risk of insufficient electricity supplies during

peak winter conditions (Figure 1). Prolonged, wide-area cold snaps threaten the reliable

performance of BPS generation and the availability of fuel supplies for natural-gas-fired

generation. As observed in recent winter reliability events, over 20% of generating capacity

has been forced off-line when freezing temperatures extend over parts of North America that

are not typically exposed to such conditions. When electricity supplies become constrained,

BPS system operators can face a simultaneous sharp increase in demand as electric heating

systems consume more power in cold temperatures. These areas (see Figure 1) are at greatest risk for electricity supply shortfalls this winter….” It then details seven areas.

Among the areas at highest risk are the Mid-Continent states (which were affected by the Texas freeze in February 2021), and also New England and the Canadian High Plains.