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Extreme cold still poses reliability challenge for N. American power generators -NERC

Dec 11 (Reuters) - The North American Electric Reliability Corp (NERC) anticipates that "freezing conditions" still remain a reliability concern for power generators, it said in a report released on Monday.

"Low temperatures and freezing conditions also caused generators to derate units and in some cases caused forced outages due to equipment failure in the freezing conditions," the North American grid regulator said in the report dated Nov. 6.

Referring to Winter Storm Uri in February 2021, it said that higher-than-expected demand and forecasting errors led to grid operators implementing rolling blackouts to prevent cascading outages which "may result in major disruptions and have very real human consequences."

In May, NERC had issued its highest severity level alert for the first time to increase the readiness of operators and users of power grids ahead of winter.

In response, around 62 operators of power plants said their capacity was susceptible to the same issue this winter that sent it offline last winter. Most of these were wind farms referring to the issue of blade icing.

"Quantification of the risk presented by wind farms in winter months warrants additional investigation," NERC said.

Last month, NERC said in its winter outlook that more than half of the U.S. and parts of Canada, home to around 180 million people, could fall short of electricity during extreme cold again this winter due to lacking natural gas infrastructure.

Along with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, NERC also urged lawmakers to fill a regulatory blind spot to maintain reliable supply of natural gas during extreme cold weather that was highlighted by an inquiry into power outages during Winter Storm Elliott in December 2022. (Reporting by Daksh Grover and Deep Vakil in Bengaluru Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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