Advertisement

Hotter summer possible, according to forecast, which may stress power grid

Meteorologist Corey Thompson breaks down the chance of a warm and dry summer, and how that could affect Iowa's power grid.
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 6:22 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Summertime temperatures could wind up above normal this year, according to forecasters with the National Weather Service, which could apply pressure on electric power reliability at times.

On Thursday, the Climate Prediction Center issued its latest seasonal outlook for the summer months, with the vast majority of the United States included in areas that are more likely to see above-normal temperatures. The CPC’s outlook also highlighted broad swaths of the central and western U.S. as favored for below-normal precipitation, continuing recent trends.

The Climate Prediction Center's Outlook for temperatures during the summer months in 2022.
The Climate Prediction Center's Outlook for temperatures during the summer months in 2022.(KCRG)

Only a small portion of Alaska was favored for below-normal temperatures during the summer, according to the outlook. Much of Alaska, the eastern seaboard, and a portion of the desert southwest were somewhat favored for above-normal precipitation.

The Climate Prediction Center's Outlook for precipitation during the summer months in 2022.
The Climate Prediction Center's Outlook for precipitation during the summer months in 2022.(KCRG)

The combination of warmer and drier conditions would serve to keep drought in place across nearly all of the western U.S., with drought redevelopment possible in Iowa during the summer months as well, based on the CPC’s latest forecast in that realm.

The current United States Drought Monitor, with an area highlighted in pink dashed lines where...
The current United States Drought Monitor, with an area highlighted in pink dashed lines where drought development is considered possible by the Climate Prediction Center before the end of August 2022.(KCRG)

Again, the CPC’s projections are based on probabilities that something will happen; when an area is favored for one category or another, it isn’t a guarantee. Instead, the darker colors on the scale indicate areas where the CPC has greater confidence in that outcome happening. In the case of Iowa in these outlooks, each one shows us in the lightest-colored area, indicating lower confidence in that particular outcome than other parts of the country.

Drought, heat could cause electric power reliability issues

A report issued by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation as we enter the summer months highlighted the risk that a hot and dry summer could pose to electric power supplies in parts of the country. Specifically, the report highlighted the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which serves portions of the south and upper Midwest, as being particularly susceptible to issues during peak summer conditions.

The report from NERC considers many factors that affect power grid reliability, leading to assessments of whether pieces of the overall national grid could be prone to shortfalls. MISO, which includes nearly the vast majority of Iowa and all of the KCRG-TV9 viewing area, is listed as facing a projected increase in electrical demand as a downturn from the pandemic eases coupled with a decrease in power generation from Summer 2021.

NERC believes that this could lead to electrical capacity shortfalls for MISO in “normal and extreme conditions” during the summer, calling it a “high risk of energy emergencies during peak summer conditions.”

This could manifest in a number of ways, with more extreme cases leading to blackouts to balance out the load.

“Grid operators in affected areas will need all available tools to keep the system in balance this summer,” Mark Olson, NERC’s manager of reliability assessments, said, in the report. “Over the longer term, system planners and resource adequacy stakeholders need to keep potentially abnormal weather conditions like these in mind so that we continue to have a reliable and resilient bulk power system.”

Alliant Energy, one of the major electric providers in eastern Iowa, expressed confidence on Friday in its ability to deliver electricity.

“Alliant Energy is confident it will be able to meet demands this summer as well as throughout the year,” Melissa McCarville, a senior communications partner for Alliant, said, in a statement. “We design, engineer and construct our facilities in anticipation of all types of weather conditions and temperatures.”

McCarville cited Alliant’s different forms of energy generation as an important part of its reliability “even during extreme temperatures.”

Copyright 2022 KCRG. All rights reserved.