Oconto Electric Cooperative is committed to providing the most reliable and safe electric to our members as possible. In recent news, MISO has made it evident that there is an increased possibility of rolling black outs due to an unbalance in power generation at peak times and usage during those peak times. OEC wants our members to be fully prepared for these possibilities. In this article you will find how to better understand the issue, what the unattractive reality of the situation may be, and what you should do to prepare and possibly prevent the potential of rolling blackouts going into the summer months.
WHAT IS MISO?
Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) is a wholesale electric market that encompasses all or parts of 15 states and Manitoba, Canada. Their purpose is to regulate the market for wholesale electricity. This creates safety standards and regulates the price of wholesale power. Minnesota Power, OEC’s generation and transmission supplier, generates electricity, sells it on the MISO Market, and then buys it back at a regulated price to distribute to its members, and bills members for their demand (the strain or draw on the power grid they service). During peak times, like a 90° day with air conditioning running, demand would be higher than usual.
WHY DO WE NEED TO BE VIGILANT NOW?
MISO’s executive director stated, “MISO’s northern and central region is at heightened risk for controlled ‘load sheds,’ or planned blackouts.” With the record heat expected this summer, the influx of new homes and properties, and the irregularity of renewable energy sources that have replaced more on-demand fossil fuel power generation, the demand is predicted to outweigh current generation of power. If the power grid is nearing capacity, members will be asked to begin to limit their consumption as much as possible. This may mean, turning down air conditioning, moving the use of dishwashers and washers and dryers to lower demand hours, and lessening the nonessential use of electricity as much as possible. Doing so will hopefully take some pressure off the grid to help keep the lights on and help avoid blackouts. If these measures are still not enough to offset a power shortage, it is possible that Minnesota Power will request an emergency load reduction plan to be implemented.
WHAT DO YOU NEED DO KNOW?
If peak alerts do not resolve the demand issue and/or Minnesota Power issues an emergency load reduction plan, Oconto Electric Cooperative will make every effort to keep our members in the loop about what to expect and when to expect it. In the event of rolling blackouts being a necessity, it will be an emergency event to prevent system wide power outages. We will do our best to let you be aware of the situation as it unfolds. Members or businesses who depend on electricity for oxygen or other life-sustaining medical equipment should have a plan in case of a power outage. Unfortunately, we are not able to exempt a member from this plan. Owning a backup generator can provide peace of mind in these situations. *
Before installing a backup generator, please contact our office to ensure your backup generator is installed correctly to protect the safety of our line crew.