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Major U.S. power grid warns of highest demand of the year

Eastern states are expected to use large amounts of power for cooling this week.
Major U.S. power grid warns of highest demand of the year
Posted at 9:51 PM, Jul 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-27 22:54:41-04

A U.S. power grid operator issued a maximum generation alert on Thursday, warning that demand for cooling power across much of the Eastern U.S. was expected to set new highs for the year.

PJM Interconnection LLC is a regional transmission organization, which is responsible for the coordination and control of part of the U.S. power grid. PJM is the largest grid operator of its kind, serving 13 states and Washington, D.C., accounting for more than 113 million customers.

PJM announced a level 1 emergency alert for Thursday, meaning that PJM expected that all of its power-generating capacity would be running to meet demand. It indicated a degree of risk that operating reserves may not be enough to meet demand.

PJM also warned that extreme heat through Friday was expected to place significant demand on the grid.

The operator expected to serve 153,000 megawatts over its network on Thursday, and up to 154,000 megawatts on Friday. This would exceed the highest daily power demand set on that grid last year, at about 149,000 megawatts.

PJM has a maximum installed generating capacity of roughly 186,000 megawatts.

SEE MORE: Are city power grids prepared to deal with prolonged heatwaves?

PJM's warnings are an example of how the changing climate is placing unprecedented demands on U.S. energy infrastructure. Government reports also warn that the problem is likely to become more acute going forward.

The U.S. grids of today are designed for a long service lifetime, meaning that they may more frequently encounter high demand and even physical damage from extreme conditions as the climate changes.

The White House has made improving grid resilience a priority. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is set to invest more than $2 billion to reinforce the grid nationwide against the demands and effects of climate change.


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