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Operator sees capacity shortage shifting to summer

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A recent North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) report warned that some Midwestern states, including Indiana, could see emergency procedures implemented this summer as extreme heat combines with a forecast power capacity shortage and increased demand.

The NERC report said the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), which is an independent non-profit organization responsible for operating the power grid in 15 US states, including Indiana, was facing a capacity shortfall. in the northern and central United States, which means there is a “high risk of energy emergencies during peak summer conditions.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts an increased likelihood of above-normal seasonal average temperatures for most of the United States in June, July and August.

Peak demand projections have increased 1.7% across MISO since last summer, in part due to a return to normal demand trends that had previously been altered by the pandemic.

MISO will also have a 2.3% lower production capacity than in summer 2021. The expected drop in capacity and the increase in demand may require emergency measures.

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Could Indiana see power outages this summer?

A MISO spokesperson told IndyStar that to get the power the agency needs to operate, it will declare emergencies more often and rely on emergency procedures, especially on hot summer days when power consumption is high.

“The reality for areas that do not have sufficient generation to cover their required load and reserves is that they will have an increased risk of temporary, controlled outages to maintain system reliability,” said Clair Moeller, president and chief operating officer of MISO, said in a written statement. “From a consumer perspective, these areas may also face higher costs to procure electricity when it is scarce.”

In the worst-case scenario, this lack of capacity could cause the agency to set up continuous blackouts.

However, that would be a last resort. MISO is more likely to buy power from other network operators in real time when needed.

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NERC rating aligns with MISO rating summer evaluation reportas well as his capacity auction results.

This information “highlights the potential need for contingency procedures to maintain system balance as well as the need for increased import dependence and resource flexibility to reliably generate and manage fuel.” uncertainty of extreme weather,” said Brandon Morris, spokesperson for MISO. , said in a written statement to IndyStar.

“Temporary and coordinated power outages are extremely rare and a final emergency measure implemented to protect the power grid,” Morris continued. “MISO has never taken this step in Indiana. We continue to communicate daily with our member utilities to coordinate plans for any obstacles – like extreme heat – and reliably forecast how much energy homes will have. and businesses will need in the region.”

Utility companies react

AES Indiana and Duke Energy, the two major utilities in central Indiana, detailed their plans if continued outages are implemented.

Kelly Young, spokeswoman for AES Indiana, which serves Indianapolis and Marion County, said in a written statement that AES Indiana plans to generate enough power to meet demand in its central service area. from Indiana.

AES Indiana has plans in place to monitor weather conditions, schedule additional personnel, and review emergency action plans as part of proactive extreme weather management.

“It’s important that everyone has a plan in place in the event of a power outage, especially if you have a specific medical condition,” Young said in a written statement to IndyStar. “You can contact AES Indiana to let us know your condition and we can note it on your account. However, AES Indiana cannot guarantee you priority restoration, and you must have a back-up plan in place, such as using a generator or stay with a friend or family member.”

Angeline Protogere, spokeswoman for Duke Energy, which serves Hamilton County and much of central Indiana, said rotating power outages are “always a last resort.”

“While an individual utility may have adequate supplies, MISO may need to take action to protect the integrity of the electrical grid in the area and direct utilities to reduce demand on the grid through a series of power outages. rotating and controlled,” Protogere said in a written statement to IndyStar.

“For Duke Energy, how these outages would occur depends on the amount of power demand reductions that need to be made. In an event like this, we would try to avoid controlled outages at critical facilities such as than hospitals and water pumping stations.”

As the likelihood of extreme weather is high during the summer months, Duke Energy takes precautions such as planning, maintenance, monitoring weather conditions, purchasing power from the MISO market as necessary to complete the power generation and investing in the power grid, according to Protogere. statement.

“It’s important to note that no system is 100% reliable all the time; things happen like weather events and unexpected equipment failures,” said Indiana Utility spokeswoman Stephanie Hodgin. Regulatory Commission, in a written statement. “But it’s also important to note that facilities in Indiana and this region are designed, built, and maintained with consideration for extreme weather conditions and seasonal peak loads.”

Contact trending IndyStar reporter Claire Rafford at [email protected] or on Twitter @clairerafford.