warm thoughts


Written on: May 30, 2023

From the National Propane Gas Association Bobtail

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) recently released its 2023 Summer Reliability Assessment. Within the assessment lies a dire warning to policymakers across the country – that two-thirds of North America could face power shortages this summer during periods of high temperatures and high electricity demand.

According to the report, the number of grid regions with an “elevated risk” of power outages has increased as temperatures rise and power plants retire. The NERC report ultimately concludes that “grid networks should come through the summer safely given normal weather.” Should the U.S., however, experience another “heat dome” such as the wave of record heat that swept across much of the western U.S. in 2021, then emergency conditions could develop.

The NERC Reliability Assessment analyzed the resource adequacy and energy risk of each grid region in the country as well as the NPCC-Ontario. According to the assessment, all of the WECC, SPP, ECROT, MISO, SERC Central, NPCC Ontario and NPCC New England are at an “Elevated Risk,” meaning there is a potential for insufficient operating reserves in above-normal conditions.

In nearly every region, “wind generator performance” during high demand periods and the possibility of “extreme heat-waves” are key factors in determining whether there is sufficient electricity supply to maintain reliability. In short, NERC determines that each grid region has sufficient reliability capacity this summer, contingent upon the lack of an unexpected heat wave or insufficient wind.

Energy security is best achieved through a multi-pronged approach. As highlighted in the report, the prospect of rapid fossil fuel-fired plant retirement threatens energy security across the country as multiple regions count on intermittent wind and solar generation to help carry them through the summer. The inclusion of low-carbon fuels, such as propane, takes strain off of the grid during unexpected peak demand times due to inclement weather, and provide the grid with needed reliability. For more information, please contact NPGA’s Manager of State Government Affairs, Austin Wicker at awicker@npga.org.