Vast Swath of US at Risk of Summer Blackouts, Regulator Warns

(Bloomberg) -- A vast swath of North America from the Great Lakes to the West Coast is at risk of blackouts this summer as heat, drought, shuttered power plants and supply-chain woes strain the electric grid. Power supplies in much of the US and part of Canada will be stretched, with demand growing again after two years of pandemic disruptions, according to an annual report. It’s among the most dire assessments yet from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, a regulatory body that oversees grid stability.

“It’s a pretty sobering report, and it’s clear the risks are spreading,” John Moura, director of reliability assessment and performance analysis, said in a press briefing. “I certainly do think it's our most cautionary tale here.”

Climate change is partly to blame. A historic drought is covering the western US, limiting supplies of hydroelectric power, and forecasts call for a hotter-than-average summer. But the fight against global warming poses its own risks as older coal-fired plants close faster than wind farms, solar facilities and batteries can replace them.