Reliability and requests to reduce electricity use

Posted on Jul 06 2022 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 make the U.S. electric grid the most complex machine in our nation’s history.

The national trend over the past several years 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 had been sounding the alarm concerning this issue for many years now and finally people are starting to pay attention. This issue has been getting a lot of attention in large national publications like the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Politico. 

If the supply/demand problem becomes too great, our regional grid operator (MISO) will order short-duration rolling blackouts to preserve the operational integrity of the grid and reduce the risk of prolonged and widespread power outages. If ordered to do so, Southern Indiana Power is planning to execute this order by a rolling 30-minute outage schedule. We hope this minimizes the overall impacts on our member-owners. 

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

Southern Indiana Power will convey messages and requests for you to consume less energy during times 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 a later time in the day. Setting your thermostat slightly higher this summer will also help.  We will be working hard to make sure our member-owners are informed when these issues begin to develop. We will send press releases and execute social media posts when these things happen.  

Southern Indiana Power wants to make sure that you are prepared for the possibility of short 30-minute outages beginning as early as this month. Like I mentioned earlier, if the regional grid operator (MISO) orders Southern to shed parts of our load, we must intentionally disconnect power over our system for periods of time to preserve integrity of the entire grid. 

Southern Indiana Power will continue to advocate on your behalf attempting to ensure that the State of Indiana and our regional grid operator (MISO) have a safe and ample supply of electric generation capacity to meet the needs of our members.