The summer of 2023 might be fairly compared to the summer of 1823, if the North American Electric Reliability Corporation has it right about power outages to come. The common ground between the two would be the lack of electricity.
According to the NERC, the country’s Western Interconnection, which includes California, much of the Western U.S., and parts of Canada and Mexico, “is experiencing heightened reliability risks heading into the summer of 2023 due to increased supply-side shortages along with the ongoing drought impacts in some areas, continued wildfire threats, and expanding heat wave events.”
If peak demand doesn’t exceed normal levels, then there should be adequate supply, says the NERC. But optimism evaporates if conditions become more difficult, and if the weatherman is right, they will be. Forecasts are calling for a warmer-than-usual California summer. It will be particularly hot in Southern California, where roughly 60% of the state’s 39 million residents live. The California Independent System Operator hasn’t issued a flex alert – “a call to consumers to voluntarily cut back on electricity and shift electricity use to off-peak hours” – since September. But its social media department would be smart to be ready for a busy season. CAISO issued five flex alerts in 2020, eight in 2021, and six last year.