U.S. Power Grids at Risk This Summer

In his 2015 bestselling book, Lights Out: A Cyberattack, a Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath, renowned broadcast journalist Ted Koppel painted a bleak picture of what could happen in the U.S. during a prolonged blackout.

A number of experts said the book was exactly the wake-up call this country needed. They hoped it would lead to a strengthening of the nation’s three electrical grids. In order to avoid the nightmare scenario likely to occur during a lengthy power outage. 

Seven years later, the grids are more vulnerable than ever. Extreme weather continues to cause blackouts across the country. Wildfires in California and severe heat in Texas result in planned rolling blackouts. And in unanticipated outages.

As we head into the summer months, more of the same is expected. And the key word here is “more.”

Widespread Summer Blackouts Predicted

The nonprofit North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) predicts widespread summer blackouts in America.

In addition to the usual hotspots for outages, the Midwest will be at risk. In fact, an NERC report claims the Midwest is at “high risk of energy emergencies.”

Why the expansion of potential outages? One of the big reasons is the huge increase in the cost of natural gas. Over the past year, the price of natural gas has risen an incredible 196%.

NERC warns that a natural gas capacity shortfall could affect the Midwest. As well as a Southern region including Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. Plus the Canadian province of Manitoba. Especially during peak summer conditions. 

Drought Is a Big Factor

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom is considering keeping a power plant open to offset the impact of the loss of hydropower due to drought. In Texas, citizens are being urged to conserve electricity to avoid summertime blackouts.

The NERC’s Summer Reliability Assessment states that Texas and the western U.S. are at “elevated risk” of seeing grid shortages should power needs peak beyond normal volumes.

Drought can produce weather conditions favorable to prolonged heat events. Which, of course, leads to peak electricity demands.

Depending on how hot and dry it stays in the West and Southwest, system operators may use emergency procedures to keep the system from crashing. Including rolling blackouts.

Nuclear Plants and Natural Gas

The assessment adds, “In the event of (a) wide-area extreme heat event, all U.S. assessment areas in the Western Interconnection are at risk of energy emergencies,” leading to “forced outages.”

Many people point the finger at climate change. Others say it’s the fight against climate change – including a dependence on unreliable winds – that is to blame.

The latter group, including senior energy analyst Phil Flynn, argues for a revamping of our nation’s energy grid. And powering it with new nuclear plants and natural gas.

He says, “Natural gas is much cleaner than coal. And nuclear power is the only source of energy that can provide massive amounts of electricity with no greenhouse gas emissions.”

Midwest in the Crosshairs

Midwesterners are used to cold winters and hot summers. But with the exception of extreme weather events, the grid has generally been reliable overall.

That may not be the case this summer. There is expected to be 2.3% less electrical generation capacity this summer than last year. Peak demand, on the other hand, is expected to be 1.7% higher.

In addition, a key transmission line connecting northern and southern segments of its coverage area was damaged last December by a tornado. 

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator may need to “shed load.” Or import additional electricity to meet normal demand this summer.

Supply Chain Comes Into Play

Another factor in these dire predictions is the ongoing global supply chain problems. The pandemic and the war in Ukraine have both had an influence on this issue.

Energy generation and transmission projects meant to deal with grid reinforcement have been slowed by supply chain problems. Issues include the lack of product availability, shipping delays and labor shortages.

Cyber security threats from Russia and other countries could also have a negative effect on electricity generation. As could the inevitable wildfire season – especially in the West – which often damages transmission lines.

John Moura is the NERC director of reliability assessment and performance analysis. He said, “It’s a sobering report. It’s clear the risks are spreading… and the pace of our grid transformation is a bit out of sync with the underlying realities and the physics of the system.”

Grab Your Pocket-Sized Power Plant 

Now, a handheld power bank won’t keep your air conditioner running when you experience power outages this summer. But it would help you keep some electrical devices working. Including your cell phone.   

Portable backup power is essential in an emergency. My recommendation is the Patriot Power Cell. This pocket-sized power plant charges in the sun with a built-in solar panel. So you’ll never have to worry about the internal battery wearing out.

With a pair of USB ports, you can charge two electronic devices at once. It features a “ruggedized” design that repels water and protects against drops. It even includes a flashlight. 

The Patriot Power Cell has become so popular that most people buy them in 4-packs. That way they can keep two at home and the others in their vehicles. Or give a couple to family members.

See what it’s all about here


  • Larry Welty - June 14, 2022

    I believe in being somewhat prepared ITSHF, I bought hopefully enough survival food from 4Patriots to last several months. I also purchased the mini Power Generator and the Patriot Power Generator 1800 with the extra solar Panel. I also have their solar bug, lights to hang outside so I will not be eaten alive by all the summer bugs. I all ready have 5 extra hand held Power Packs. several USB/Solar Charged Flash lights. I also have a large gas Generator to run during the day. I do have my own Pistols, Rifles, Shotgun and plenty of ammo for each. I have my own water well and can fill up cans and the bath tub if necessary. Our economy have gone to pot and the stock market is falling. We have given Billions of our tax dollars to help the people that are fighting Russia, may God help them.

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