A new report warns that Oklahoma is at an elevated risk for having insufficient energy supplies this winter. According to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), much of North America does not have the capabilities to operate efficiently during extreme weather conditions.

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Earlier this month, the NERC released its 2023-2024 Winter Reliability Assessment, and it found that much of the power grids in North America will not be able to withstand an extreme winter.

The areas identified as being at elevated risk extend over much of the eastern two-thirds of the continent. In these areas, although resources are adequate for normal winter peak demand, any prolonged, wide-area cold snaps will be challenging due to generator outages and fuel vulnerability, extreme levels of electricity demand, difficulties in accurate forecasting and the risk of firm electricity transfer curtailments.

One of the areas categorized at an elevated risk is Oklahoma. Which means, if the state is to experience any extreme winter weather conditions, the state has the potential for insufficient operating reserves.


The SPP power grid lacks supply for peak winter conditions.

According to the report, the SPP (Southwest Power Pool), which is the grid over Oklahoma, meets operating reserve requirements under normal peak-demand scenarios but its "reserve margins have fallen this winter because of increased peak demand projections and declining anticipated resources." Here's what the report's key findings were regarding SPP:

The Anticipated Reserve Margin (ARM) of 38.8 percent is over 30 percentage points lower than last winter; this is driven by higher forecasted peak demand and less resource capacity. While the reserve margin is adequate for normal forecasted peak demand and expected generator outages, higher demand levels and outages that have occurred during extreme cold weather result in shortfalls that can trigger energy emergencies. The vast wind resources in the area can alleviate firm capacity shortages under the right conditions; however, energy risks emerge during periods of low wind or forecast uncertainty and high electricity demand.

In layman's terms, remember when we had that extreme cold snap in 2020 and Oklahomans were asked to conserve natural gas, we had rolling blackouts and many Oklahomans had no water or power for days? Well, if we have a another one of those winters or one more extreme, we could have a similar experience or worse.

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