2023 journal article
Planning for winter peaking power systems in the United States
Energy Policy, 173, 113376.
Most regions in the United States experience peak electricity demand during the summer months. Several regions, however, are dual peaking with distinct summer and winter peaks of roughly equal magnitude. Deep decarbonization of our energy system could lead to greater instances of dual or winter peaking power systems across the country. This seasonal shift has important implications for grid operations. Furthermore, the compounding impacts of decarbonization strategies and climate change could introduce new challenges in ensuring sufficient generator availability during peak demand. This paper provides policy recommendations to plan for a shift to dual or winter peaking power systems. We first analyze the seasonal peak demand trends between 2016 and 2021 at the regional and subregional levels. We provide key examples of how regulators and system operators plan for winter resource adequacy, focusing on the measures undertaken by different stakeholders, post-Winter Storm Uri. We then detail challenges posed by the multilevel regulation framework in planning for winter peaking power systems for both extreme cold events and a gradual shift due to electrification. Finally, we provide our policy recommendations for utilities and regulators on how they can robustly meet the challenges of winter peaking systems.