During the summer of 2012, 56 percent of the Lower 48 states were experiencing drought conditions as of May 8, almost twice the area compared to the same time the previous year, according to data from the U.S. Drought Monitor. In addition to heightened water supply concerns, the dry conditions can also provide favorable conditions for a busier wildfire season across many parts of the country. The operating challenges and implications resulting from these extreme temperatures and drought conditions can potentially impact reliable operations throughout the U.S. electric power grid. It is therefore essential for electric sector owners and operators to understand these conditions and to plan adequate responses if conditions begin to impact operations.
As part of its responsibility for ensuring the reliability, survivability and resilience of the nation’s energy infrastructure, OE’s Infrastructure Security and Energy Restoration Division commissioned the development of the Electric Reliability and Drought Analysis by Argonne National Laboratory. This analysis is designed to inform both DOE and private sector partners of potential future drought conditions, modeled electric power system impacts, and to drive conversation that will allow all stakeholders to understand the potential threats, impacts, and mitigations. DOE coordinated with industry and subject matter experts to review and revise the analysis and hopes it will help inform those utilities that are currently or may in the future address the potential impacts of severe drought conditions.