Experts Warn the US Power Grid is in Trouble This Winter

( – The North American Electric Reliability Corp (NERC) said on November 13 that parts of Canada and over half of the United States could suffer electricity shortages in winter because of a weak natural gas infrastructure. The nonprofit corporation explained that these power shortages would affect nearly 200 million people between the two countries.

In its winter outlook for 2023-2024, the regulatory authority warned that extended, wide-area cold periods represent a risk to the reliability of bulk power generation and even the availability of fuel for natural gas-fired generation. NERC explained that some recent cases of extreme cold weather highlighted the “devastating” impact that disruptions on energy delivery can have on consumers of gas and electricity in affected areas. The corporation also noted that the South, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and the Midwest are the areas of the United States that could be severely impacted during winter.

NERC pointed out that grid operators such as Texas’ ERCOT, SERC Reliability Corp, PJM Interconnection, and Midcontinent ISO are currently vulnerable to generators being turned off during extreme low temperatures. The regulatory authority noted that extreme cold conditions can also affect New England’s gas pipelines, as the region has a weak gas infrastructure.

During a press conference, NERC’s chief of performance analysis and reliability assessment John Moura explained there are currently not enough natural gas facilities and pipelines to serve gas generation in “big areas.” When asked which were these areas, Moura told reporters these were New England, New York MISO, and PJM.

On November 7, the nonprofit corporation and the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission urged American lawmakers to fill a regulatory gap to keep a reliable supply of gas during cold weather. The gap was highlighted during an investigation into power outages in the United States during Winter Storm Elliot in 2022.

The investigation found that, during the storm, both gas and electric systems in most of the US’s eastern half experienced massive stress, which resulted in unplanned generation losses.

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