Heat wave Intense Heat Wave Raises Questions About Future of U.S. Energy System
s grapples with record heat and drought. The same conditions driving up our demand for electricity are limiting our ability to make it, as it turns out just about every part of the electricity system performs worse when it’s, really hot and dry. This is scary, i mean we, i mean you can call this unprecedented, and i mean we haven’t we’ve had two weather events in in less than a year that we have never seen. We have never come close to seeing before in portland oregon temperatures hitting 116 degrees. An all time high, the local power company had to install extra cooling systems to keep their own equipment from overheating. Those cooling systems themselves use electricity, just like the air conditioners that oregonians are now buying up in droves. Their conditioning of numbers in this region are going to go up dramatically and that’s going to increase the energy needs and that will again make the next the next peak even worse, in terms of the electric demand on the system, it’s also about the water fuel burning Power plants like coal, natural gas and even nuclear rely on water to cool everything off the less water available nearby, the less power they can safely generate. A water shortage can even take power plants offline. So far, that’s only happened rarely and temporarily, such as at connecticut’s millstone nuclear power station, but regulators are studying what to do if the problem gets worse. Researchers have shown that drought threatens coal and nuclear power plant water supplies in the upper midwest and the southeastern united states in new england, as well as the western united states.
So this is really a national issue, then there’s hydroelectric dams that generate power from nature’s own resources, less water in rivers and reservoirs, less electricity right now, it’s particularly cute on the colorado river, that drought is impacting the deliverability of generation that hydropower generation lake mead. On the colorado river is the nation’s largest reservoir by volume, the water source for the hoover dam, which provides power for three states this week, water levels in lake mead at a record low of less than 1070 feet this time last year it was 18 feet higher. The bureau of reclamation says that’s already reduced the hoover dam’s output by more than a quarter that’s the drought then there’s the heat, a study from the energy department’s argonne national laboratory found that during heat wave conditions, transmission lines carry power less efficiently. Gas fired plants, don’t work as well. Even solar panels produce less electricity during intense heat. Extreme weather is also impacting us with respect to wildfire danger. Right now and throughout the last week, we’ve had uh wildfires, coming perilously close to our transmission lines, carrying that federal hydropower to customers. Just look at california. In recent years, the largest utility has forced blackouts preemptively, because the extreme heat and transmission lines threatened a deadly combination, especially during wildfire season and as climate change induces extreme weather events more and more frequently, we need to make investments to build a more resilient grid. We know the future means more reliance on electricity that’s by design, but all that electricity has to come from somewhere and when renewable sources like hydro and solar aren’t enough, the backup tends to be the dirtiest options.
Old coal and gas plants, or even oil burning emergency generators, fueling even more greenhouse gas emissions and a vicious cycle that will test the power grid more and more often, and at the times we need it. Most josh is here with me now so josh. What can we do to help relieve the pressure on our energy systems? I’M sitting here feeling guilty i’m blessed in my air conditioning? I got a fan going. Are there ways the average american can make a difference here, short and long term? Well, don’t feel bad allison. It is hot out there. You do need that air conditioning, but there are absolutely things that we can and will be expected to do as americans to deal with this. Some of it has to do with making sure that our homes and our businesses are more efficient. That they use less electricity, sometimes it will be about making sure we don’t use more electricity than we need to that. We conserve energy and then another big part is going to be making sure that we are sharing that we’re playing nicely in the sandbox so that when one part of the country is facing a shortage, other parts can get it from that part and even have our Electric vehicles in the future sell back electricity to the grid during peak hours so that we’re not overloading the systems all at once. So today, josh president biden met with governors from the west uh to talk about wild fire season.
To talk about the impact that heat and drought are are having on this country, what was his message for them? Because you know we just are all feeling the heat, whether it’s, using all this energy and electricity, or concern that there’s going to be a terrible wildfire season ahead. Well, president biden’s message has been look. A lot of this is coming, whether we like it or not, and now is the time for states to work on resilience to make sure that they are prepared to that end. He’S inviting states to apply for federal grants for money to do what they call pre disaster mitigation on the other part of this is preparing for wildfires as we enter wildfire season. The president very upset that federal firefighters now make about 13 an hour he’s pledging that in his administration, they’re going to start to make 15 an hour as we try to improve recruitment and retention of firefighters, allison. All right, josh very much appreciate your reporting today. Thank you: hey nbc news viewers thanks for checking out our youtube channel subscribe by clicking on that button down here and click on any of the videos over here to watch.