Power sector warns of blackouts as demand clashes with traditional plant retirements


Officials and grid operators across the country are warning of high prices and possible blackouts throughout the summer when peak electricity demand runs up against generating capacity constraints.

The alarms reveal a number of problems facing power grids across the country, including, in some regions, the trouble utilities are facing with capacity while moving away from fossil fuels and toward renewable sources, a process that Democrats and environmentalists want to see hastened but which many Republicans and fossil fuel industry interests are trying to slow.

Power grids face different problems depending on the region, but multiple operators have been warning that tight capacity margins could lead to shortages in the event of extreme heat or weather events that damage transmission.

California regulators warned last week that the state may again face rolling blackouts in coming months when high temperatures cause a surge in demand, or if wildfires require utilities to take transmission offline, as in years past.

“We know reliability is going to be difficult,” said California Public Utilities Commission President Alice Reynolds. The state already announced plans last year to build five natural gas-fired plants to help augment strained capacity and prevent outages.


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