US Southwest and Texas at risk of power shortfalls this summer, regulator says

By Thomson Reuters May 15, 2024 | 2:20 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. Southwest and Texas are at an increased risk of power supply shortfalls during times of peak demand this summer due to rising electricity consumption and supply constraints, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation said on Wednesday.

Parts of the Midwest and New England are also under elevated threat of inadequate power supplies in high electricity consumption periods this summer, while the U.S. Northwest and most of the East Coast are expected to see normal conditions, NERC said.


Extreme heat, new data centers, increased manufacturing activity and electric vehicles are raising U.S. power demand forecasts in the summer months. At the same time, predictions for lower wind power and shrinking coal-fired generation are expected to reduce supply in parts of the United States.

Heavy demand on power grids without enough supply, or with a hamstrung transmission and distribution network, can raise power bills and lead to outages.

A record 25 gigawatts in new solar capacity added over the past year, particularly in Texas and Florida, will help offset some of the increased demand, NERC said.

Intermittent power sources, however, can underperform depending on sunshine and wind levels. Without the technology to store renewable energy for long periods, spotty power supply can contribute to a destabilized grid.


“One of the key challenges operators face as the resource mix evolves is how to get through the summer evening periods with fewer available resources at their disposal,” said John Moura, NERC’s director of Reliability Assessments and Performance Analysis.


Peak summer power demand hours are typically in the evenings, when workers return home, crank up cooling systems and charge electric vehicles. During those same periods, solar resources are low, which can particularly effect states with large solar power generation like California and Texas.

Wildfires, which often erupt in summer and autumn, can knock out power and causing electricity prices to spike.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Marguerita Choy)