INDIANAPOLIS — With the high price of gas, more people may be staying at home this summer. However, the power may not be there when people need it the most.
A report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation shows the power grid faces a risk of disruption from a combination of drought, heat, potential cyber-attacks, geopolitical conflicts, and supply chain problems.
The report found that the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) faces a capacity shortfall in the North and Central areas. This includes Indiana. This shortfall results in a high risk of energy emergencies during peak summer conditions.
“The seasonal assessment aligns with the cleared resources identified in the 2022-2023 Planning Resource Auction, which indicated capacity shortfalls in both the north and central regions of MISO and leaving those areas at increased risk of temporary, controlled outages to preserve the integrity of the bulk electric system,” said JT Smith, executive director – market operations at MISO.
The company projects the need for increased, non-firm imports and potentially emergency resources to meet the 2022 summer peak demand. They report warmer-than-normal temperatures among the reasons for the increased demand.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast above normal or slightly above normal temperatures across the region. The report states that above-average seasonal temperatures can contribute to high peak demand.
The report states that peak demand projections have increased by 1.7% since summer 2021 due, in part, to a return to normal demand patterns that have been altered in prior years by the pandemic. At the same time, MISO will have 2.3% less generation capacity than in the summer of 2021. This is due, in part, by the retirement of older plants.
The report notes that system operators are more likely to need operating mitigations to get through peak summer conditions. In more extreme temperatures, this may include rolling blackouts to maintain system reliability.
MISO states that they have been working to prepare for the worst-case scenarios and implement lessons learned and best practices. During real-time operations, unplanned outages and other variables may require additional actions to maintain grid reliability.
“We closely monitor the many challenges the summer season can bring and coordinate with our members and other grid operators for situational awareness,” said Jessica Lucas, MISO’s executive director – system operations. “Our members provide us with the details to determine our operational needs and we anticipate tight operating conditions this summer based on their insights.”
Brandon Morris, a spokesperson for MISO said temporary, coordinated power outages are extremely rare. The last time this occurred was in the south region during Winter Storm Uri.
The Associated Press reports usually, utilities black out certain blocks or zones before cutting off power to another area, then another. Often areas with hospitals, fire stations, water-treatment plants, and other key facilities are spared.
When speaking with reporters Wednesday, Gov. Eric Holcomb said the state is “monitoring” the possibility of rolling blackouts.
“We hope that’s the worst-case scenario obviously,” he said.
Holcomb said he believes the report underscores the need for more energy sources.
“We’re one of the fastest-growing renewable, clean-energy source states, number four right now in America,” Holcomb said. “So yes, we’re actively recruiting not just our all of the above approach in renewables, but some new sources as well.”
Some electric providers, like AES Indiana, offer financial incentives to encourage Hoosiers to use less energy during the summer months. For more information on AES Indiana’s CoolCents program, click here.