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This summer is shaping up to be one of the hottest the U.S. has ever seen. That’s not good for our struggling power grid.

A map of the United States illustrates the seasonal temperature outlook for July through September 2023. A majority of the country is colored in shades of orange, indicating a 33% or greater chance that temperatures will be above normal. A majority of coastal and southwestern states are colored the deepest shade of orange, indicating a higher likelihood (up to 60%) that temperatures will be above normal. Most of the upper midwestern states are colored white, indicating an equal chance that temperatures will be above or below normal.
The United States seasonal temperature outlook for July through September 2023. Credit: NOAA / National Weather Service

A streak of hot summers isn’t likely to let up this year. A new federal climate outlook released last week predicts July through September temperatures will once again be above normal in much of the U.S., with the most abnormal heat expected in the Southwest.

And thanks to human-caused climate change, combined with a developing El Niño weather pattern, the whole world is on track for a toasty next few years. Experts at the World Meteorological Organization predicted in a new report that the Earth will almost certainly see its warmest year on record sometime in the next five years.

None of that is good news for the U.S. power grid. The North American Electric Reliability Corp. — a nonprofit power grid watchdog — just put power generators and transmission owners on high alert for this coming summer. If temperatures reach extreme highs as expected, the majority of the U.S. could face power supply shortfalls that turn into blackouts, NERC warns. 

But the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees U.S. electricity supplies, did find a few bright spots in the report. Enough new power supplies are expected to come online this summer to cover anticipated growth in demand, and electricity prices may also drop, the regulators suggest. 

More clean energy news

🌎 International climate action stalls: G7 countries’ annual meeting ended without a new commitment to phase out fossil fuel use as the U.S. pushed countries to ramp up clean energy while facilitating its allies’ access to oil and natural gas. (Axios)

⚠️ A new coal ash crackdown: New U.S. EPA coal ash rules would address hundreds of “legacy” coal ash landfills and ponds that have gone unregulated for years, but environmental groups say they leave loopholes for dozens of other sites. (Energy News Network)

💰 Cash for climate goals: Electric utility companies are starting to tie CEO pay to climate and emission targets, though researchers say they should more clearly link bonuses to science-based goals. (E&E News)

⛔ Electric vans’ roadblock: Commercial vehicles tend to drive short, established routes every day, making them well suited for electrification — but production problems have limited the rollout of electric trucks and vans. (New York Times)

🏘️ A mounting electrification fight: Renters who want to lower their emissions with electric vehicles and appliances run up against landlords who are reluctant to make expensive upgrades, and incentives aimed at single-family homeowners aren’t helping. (Washington Post)

⚡ Two-step permitting reforms? Federal energy permitting reform talks continue as Republicans look to push off transmission reforms until after a debt ceiling deal is reached, and Democrats look to detach them from debt ceiling negotiations altogether. (Politico, The Hill)

🔥 Garbage in, methane out: The U.S. could significantly reduce landfill methane emissions if the EPA established stronger regulations and monitoring, an environmental group’s research finds. (Inside Climate News)

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Kathryn brings her extensive editorial background to the Energy News Network team, where she oversees the early-morning production of ENN’s five email digest newsletters as well as distribution of ENN’s original journalism with other media outlets. From documenting chronic illness’ effect on college students to following the inner workings of Congress, Kathryn has built a broad experience in her more than five years working at major publications including The Week Magazine. Kathryn holds a Bachelor of Science in magazine journalism and information management and technology from Syracuse University.