“Hydropower is not the only part of the nation’s energy system that appears increasingly vulnerable to the impact of climate change, as low water levels affect coal-fired and nuclear power plants’ operations and impede the passage of coal barges along the Mississippi River,” writes Juliet Eilperin in the Washington Post (Climate change challenges power plant operations, online September 9). The article calls attention to a significant set of impacts of climatic disruption and points to the need for adaptive preparedness. “’We’re trying to manage a changing climate, its impact on water supplies and our ability to generate power, all at once,’ said Michael L. Connor, commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, the Interior Department’s water management agency.”
Extreme summer heat drives up electricity demand for cooling. This can strain electrical supply, transmission, and distribution systems and thereby increase the risks of very costly and disruptive blackouts.