Full Title: Water-Smart Power: Strengthening the U.S. Electricity System in a Warming World
Author(s): Rogers, J., K. Averyt, S. Clemmer, M. Davis, F. Flores-Lopez, P. Frumhoff, D. Kenney, J. Macknick, N. Madden, J. Meldrum, J. Overpeck, S. Sattler, E. Spanger-Siegfried, and D. Yates
Publisher(s): Union of Concerned Scientists
Publication Date: 7/2013


The heat waves and drought that hit the United States in 2011 and 2012 shined a harsh light on the vulnerability of the U.S. electricity sector to extreme weather. During the historic 2011 drought in Texas, power plant operators trucked in water from miles away to keep the plants running, and disputes deepened between cities and utilities seeking to construct new water-intensive coal plants. In 2012, heat and drought forced power plants, from the Gallatin coal plant in Tennessee to the Vermont Yankee nu- clear plant on the Connecticut River, to reduce their output or shut down altogether. That summer, amid low water levels and soaring water temperatures, operators of other plants—at least seven coal and nuclear plants in the Midwest alone—received permission to discharge even hotter cooling water, to enable the plants to keep generating. These consecutive summers alone revealed water-related electricity risks across the country.