Graded outages remain a “real potential risk,” said Michael Bryson, senior vice president of PJM Interconnection, and he’s asking people to help maintain the network through Sunday afternoon.
The cold weather that swept in from the west was so fast and severe that PJM, which operates the network from Illinois to Virginia, is more than He underestimated peak demand by 7 gigawatts.
This corresponds to an average of 7 million households per day.
The network operator has ordered a rare emergency, requiring some consumers to limit their consumption.
Although freezing temperatures were expected ahead of the weekend, “one of the things we’ve reduced is how cold it will be and how much consumer demand will be at the weekend,” Bryson said in a phone interview Saturday.
We are doing everything we can to ensure that we do not have to implement rolling blackouts.
The rolling blackout warning is particularly dire because PJM has a huge surplus of power plants. Old coal and natural gas plants remained standing even as the shale boom of the past decade led to a wave of new gas plant construction.
The oversupply of PJM was so outlandish that North American Electric Reliability Corp.’s seasonal assessment put it among safe areas without an increased risk of blackouts this winter. The other area was the southeast where there was a power outage in this storm.
The number of outages at power plants also increased to more than 31 gigawatts on Saturday. According to PJM data, these “forced outages” are up to three times the value expected on Friday. Bryson said producers’ access to natural gas has been “affected” and emissions restrictions have been put in place at some plants.
Thrift works. We saw the benefit of this today and will count on our customers from now until noon tomorrow
PJM is not alone in its prediction problems. Most of the networks underestimated the amount of demand that will increase due to the cold temperatures. “In general, consumer demand is lower on the weekends,” Bryson said.
One reason for the energy woes is that the country, especially the Sun Belt, has moved too quickly to electrify residential heating over the past two decades, said Pat Wood, CEO of Hunt Energy Network and former chairman of the Texas Public Utilities Commission. and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
With a production fleet powered by natural gas, more powerful than ever, we use twice as much gas to heat homes with electricity than with gas boilers.
Cover image: Getty Images