The United States is currently experiencing one of the worst droughts in decades. Counties throughout the central, southern and western regions of the nation are seeing lower crop yields and dried up water reserves, severely driving up the price of food.
However, food markets are not alone in being affected by the drought. High temperatures and low water supply could leave a deep mark on the energy sector, a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration explains. Power plants reliant on water for electricity generation are finding it increasingly difficult to satisfy increased demand for cooling.
In today's list feature, Utility Dive highlights three ways utilities can be affected by this summer's drought.
Power plants need water to cool equipment used in the generation process. Rivers and lakes supplying these plants are drying up and, to add insult to injury, increasing in temperature. The limited water reserves could be too hot for plants to use effectively, and in turn they would have to scale back production. This is particularly bad for nuclear energy, as a Connecticut nuclear power plant was forced to shut down for almost two weeks due to a warm water supply.
Waterways needed to ship materials to power plants are lowering due to the drought. As reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Mississippi River has seen blocked traffic in certain sections of the river where drying has been significant.
3. HIGH COOLING DEMAND
It's normal for power plants to be overworked during the summer to meet increased cooling demand, but this drought could make things worse. The western United States is experiencing a heat wave that has brought temperatures well above 100 degrees throughout the region. Power plants, already running into cooling problems, will have a harder time generating electricity for customers and could run the risk of overheating.
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