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Power Authorities Acknowledge U.S. Baseload Electricity Is No Longer Adequate To Prevent Blackouts

July 12, 2021 (EIRNS)—The Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) warns that baseline generation reliability west of the Mississippi River is no longer adequate to prevent blackouts. The WECC is the responsible overview agency for liaison among generator and transmission entities in the multi-state region, and in multiple reports over recent months has stated its warning, though in polite terms. For example, the WECC said on March 19, 2021: “The resource mix in the Western Interconnection is changing as more coal-fired base load thermal generating units are retiring and being replaced by variable generation like wind and solar.” This quote is from a March WECC study which focused on the specific causes of the California blackouts a year ago August. (Title: “August 2020 Heatwave Event Analysis Report”)

In December 2020, the WECC released its “Western Assessment of Resource Adequacy,” whose conclusion was that it can no longer be assumed that peak needs in one state can be met by importing electricity from another.

Other parts of the nation have the same problem. A map of all U.S. areas now at “elevated risk” for blackouts was posted June 30, on the website of the Energy Information Agency, from a report, “2021 Summer Reliability Assessment” by North American Electric Reliability Corporation. The EIA posting stated, “Electric supply shortages may occur in the western United States, Texas, New England, and parts of the Midwest.”

On July 6, Coal Age, the coal-lobbying publication, published a roundup, titled, “Here Come the Blackouts!” It stated, “WECC now notes that not a single one of its subregions generates enough power to provide sufficient supply during periods of high demand; every single region relies on imports to fill the gaps and avoid blackouts.”

The WECC has identified in its worst case scenario, according to a May 12 round-up by the anti-coal Bloomberg news service, “that without imports, Nevada, Utah and Colorado could be short of power during hundreds of hours this year, or the equivalent of 34 days. Arizona and New Mexico could be short for enough hours to total 17 days.” Jordan White, Vice President of Strategic Engagement for WECC, told Bloomberg, “It’s no longer necessarily a California problem or a Phoenix problem.... Everyone is chasing the same number of megawatts.”

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