MISO issues electric reliability warnings

Posted on Jul 05 2024 in Southern Indiana Power
Steve Seibert

Balancing the demand for electricity with just-in-time supply and then transmitting the electricity over an expansive grid of transmission and distribution lines makes the U.S. electric grid the most complex machine in our nation’s history.

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) issued a warning for the Midwest region this summer, followed by its highest-level alert ever given for this July.

Over the past several years, the national trend has been to retire baseload coal generation and transition to more intermittent, renewable, carbon-free resources. This trend is being driven by politicians, big corporations, and even the current energy markets. Transitioning to carbon-free resources for electric generation is much more complex than our political leaders claim or, quite frankly, even understand.

So far, the pace of renewable, intermittent generation additions hasn’t kept pace with the retirements of dispatchable baseload resources they will replace. As a result, we want everyone to be increasingly more aware of the possibility of requests to reduce electricity use.

Southern Indiana Power has been sounding the alarm concerning this issue for many years now, and finally, people are starting to pay attention. Co-op leaders across the country have been meeting with government officials and various media outlets to try to get them to understand the issue.

MISO’s generation reserves are typically available for unexpected events that impact the system’s balance of supply and demand. Still, they aren’t as large as they once were due to baseload coal retirements. This situation increases the possibility for reductions in electricity use (rolling blackouts) to prevent large-scale, grid-type power outages or failures.

Southern Indiana Power will convey messages and requests that you consume less energy when demand is high and supply is constrained. We will ask you to turn off any unnecessary lights, appliances, etc. Use the delayed start functions on appliances to move laundry and dishwashing to later in the day. Setting your thermostat slightly higher this summer will also help. We will be working hard to ensure our member-owners are informed when these issues develop. We will send press releases and execute social media posts when these things happen.

What can be done to remedy this issue? The answer is quite simple. More dispatchable resources need to be added to the electric grid to balance the influx of intermittent renewables to meet the electricity demands of consumers. We must continue to fight to keep electric reliability focused on physics and out of politics. Electric reliability in the United States should be a non-partisan issue. Southern Indiana Power will continue to advocate on your behalf, attempting to ensure that the State of Indiana and MISO have a safe and ample supply of electric generation capacity to meet the needs of our members.