Across the nation, electric grid operators are warning that power-generating capacity is struggling to keep up with demand, an issue that could lead to warnings and possible rolling blackouts during heat waves or other peak periods this summer.
The Midcontinent Independent System Operator, or MISO, oversees our regional electric grid spanning much of the Midwest, including Indiana. In late April, MISO announced that capacity shortages may need emergency conservation measures to meet summer demand. They also noted the possibility of short duration rolling outages (blackouts) to protect the grid and reduce the risk of prolonged, widespread outages.
The risk of electricity shortages is rising throughout the U.S. as demand for electricity has rebounded since the beginning of the pandemic. In 2020, power requirements were lower than normal and coal and natural gas companies began exporting more of their commodities to China during that time. Additionally, due to the Ukrainian conflict, more coal and natural gas are now being exported to Europe.
Further, conventional power plants are being retired and there are significant supply chain and technology challenges to replace this base load power. Planned renewable energy and storage projects are being delayed and costs are rising due to these challenges.
If power capacity becomes strained this summer, MISO will issue a warning and BCREMC will request from our members a temporary reduction in electric use wherever possible. For example, avoid using major appliances such as ovens, dishwashers, and clothes dryers until after 8 p.m. and move your AC thermostat up a couple of degrees for a few hours.
Rolling blackouts are a worst-case scenario, but we want our members to be prepared. If the power transmission grid meets max capacity, the rolling blackouts will begin with brief power outages lasting no more than 30 minutes at a time.
Please be prepared this summer for possible power shortages. During a MISO alert event, notifications will be posted on Facebook and Twitter and email or text notifications will be sent to inform members of the need to conserve energy and the possibility of intermittent outages.