"Where Heat Waves Might Cause Blackouts: Look Up Your Area"

"The electrical grid faces a looming challenge: longer and stronger heat waves.

Large swaths of California, Arizona, Nevada and Texas are projected to have to endure more than four months every year in which the temperature will be high enough to compromise power transformers, new research shows. As a result, blackouts caused by overheated electrical equipment could become more frequent by mid-century.

The new research by the consulting firm ICF’s Climate Center projected how temperature will change by mid-century under a moderate warming scenario. Then they calculated how many days per year every part of the contiguous United States would experience average temperatures exceeding 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) for at least 48 hours.

For example, if the average temperature tops 86 degrees for three straight days in June, then again for five straight days in July, that counts as eight total days.

An average temperature of 86 degrees implies blistering daytime highs along with sultry nighttime lows, depriving electrical equipment of a chance to cool down. Hotter than that, most power transformers are not designed to operate at full capacity."

Harry Stevens reports for the Washington Post May 22, 2024.

Source: Washington Post, 05/23/2024