On July 27, the largest US grid, PJM, issued an Energy Emergency Alert level one due to concerns about maintaining sufficient power reserves. With the scorching heat leading consumers and businesses to increase their air conditioning usage, the US grid is under pressure to meet the demand for electricity. To stabilize the power supply, PJM has taken measures to ensure all power plants are online, and consumers enrolled in demand-response programs must be prepared to reduce their electricity usage when required, as stated in a notice issued late Wednesday.
Heat advisories or excessive heat warnings
The extreme heat is affecting a significant portion of the country, with approximately 170 million people under heat advisories or excessive heat warnings, according to Bob Oravec, a senior branch forecaster at the US Weather Prediction Center.
PJM serves a vast population of over 65 million people, spanning from Washington, DC to Illinois. Earlier in the week, PJM warned of potential tight conditions and requested power generators to be prepared. Failure by power suppliers to comply with the US grid’s demands may result in severe penalties.
Today, July 27, PJM Interconnection, the largest electric US grid operator in the US, has issued a level-one emergency alert in response to the ongoing scorching heatwave that is impacting not only the US but also Europe and China. In light of this situation, PJM has requested power plants to operate at full capacity.
Managing the power supply in 13 states
PJM Interconnection is responsible for managing the power supply in 13 states and the District of Columbia (DC) area, serving approximately 65 million people. While the company initially believed it had enough capacity to meet firm loads and reserve requirements, it is now expressing concerns about maintaining the necessary electricity contingency reserves.
On July 24, the power company released a statement explaining the significance of a Hot Weather Alert. This alert is aimed at preparing transmission and generation personnel, as well as facilities, for the challenges posed by extreme heat and/or humidity that could lead to capacity issues on the US grid. The company predicts that temperatures will surpass 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32°C) across its service area, resulting in a surge in electricity demand from households and businesses needing continuous power supply for cooling systems.
This increased demand places a strain on the power company’s reserves, potentially requiring assistance from other power companies in case they are unable to meet the electricity supply demands. The company, headquartered in Pennsylvania, anticipates serving a projected load of around 150,700 megawatts across the regional transmission organization (RTO) on July 27, and approximately 152,800 megawatts on July 28.