With different emphasis both reports identify potential reliability issues especially in the western United States. Temperatures have a significant impact on demand for electricity, and higher than average temperatures are expected for the coming summer. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts for June 2022 through September 2022 suggest a 50% to 80% likelihood of higher-than-average temperatures.
Drought conditions also create heightened reliability risk for the summer. Drought exists or threatens wide areas of North America especially the west currently in the grips of an unpresented drought. Dry hydrological conditions threaten the availability of hydroelectricity for transfers throughout the Western Interconnection, and will reduce the availability of hydroelectric power in total. Hydroelectric power is the most reliable of the renewable options in the northwest and California plans for the availability to purchase that power when their own generation is inadequate. However, they do not purchase the rights to that power in advance of need.
|Drought Monitor May 24, 2022|
|This is summer demand when natural gas is not used for heating.|
The western U.S. continues to face extreme drought conditions, increasing the likelihood of significant wildfires and reducing the amount of hydropower available. Another risk to the reliability of electrical power is the potential for wildfire. The risk of wildfires may require transmission operators to proactively shut down power in areas of active fires, or during extreme heat and wind conditions to reduce the likelihood of electric equipment sparking fires.
The low reservoir and snowpack levels indicate that the West will see less hydropower as less water is available to move through generators and as reservoir water levels fall below those necessary to operate generation equipment safely. As of May 11, 2022, after below-normal accumulations all winter, late spring storms have brought snowpack levels in the Pacific Northwest above normal, while California’s snowpack level stands at just 22% of normal for this time of year. Everything will have to go right for the electrical grid to function normally all summer. Let's hope.