MISO Maximum Generation Warnings
Leading up to Rolling Blackouts: Understanding Peak Alerts and a Max Gen Event
First, we want to assure you that, under normal conditions, the grid will be just fine.
The heat of summer brings with it a greater risk for power outages in parts of the U.S. and Canada. Dairyland Power Cooperative, Riverland Energy's wholesale power supplier, is a member of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), an independent, not-for-profit organization responsible for operating the power grid in 15 states and Manitoba, Canada. In May, MISO 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.
MISO’s Executive Director, recently stated, “MISO’s northern and central regions are at heightened risk for controlled load sheds or planned blackouts.” MISO may activate emergency plans, which would result in load shedding (reducing the demand for electricity) outside of seasonal full load control hours (2 p.m. to 6 p.m., in the summer). If the power grid is nearing capacity, members will be asked to begin conservation measures such as limiting the use of air conditioning. Members should also delay the use of dishwashers, washers and dryers and other nonessential electricity items. These measures take some pressure off the grid to help keep the lights on and help avoid blackouts.
Our power supplier, Dairyland Power Cooperative, has enough generation capacity to reliably supply Riverland Energy, and the 24 other cooperatives on their system. However, being interconnected to the entire Midwest changes the supply of, and demand for, electricity.
Per MISO requirements, the grid operator is required to declare an emergency alert called a Max Gen Alert, when system frequency cannot be maintained above certain levels and durations. When conditions warrant, MISO will instruct all power providers to begin shedding load in order to align the demand for electricity with the available power supply. We may then be required to rotate outages to help preserve the reliability of the system as a whole.
Cooperative members who depend on electricity for oxygen or other life-sustaining medical equipment should have a plan in case of a power outage. Owning a backup generator can provide peace of mind.
Riverland Energy will make every effort to keep our members in the loop and what to expect and when to expect it, but once a Max Gen Alert is issued, members should assume their power could go out without advance warning. Efforts will be made to provide advance notice, when possible. Once notified by MISO to shed load, the cooperative is obligated to respond within minutes, therefore advanced notice to members will be a challenge.
A limited number of times throughout the summer months, Dairyland Power Cooperative, Riverland Energy’s wholesale power provider, is approaching a period when energy use is expected to be very high, we’ll issue a “Peak Alert”. This aims to reduce electricity use during the time of day when power use peaks, such as winter mornings or evenings when temperatures are often at their lowest, or late summer afternoons when the temperatures are the highest.
The idea behind this is to shift energy usage away from the times when demand is highest. Doing so could save the Cooperative and its member’s significant money over time by keeping the whole wholesale power costs low and stable. This is voluntary, and benefits all members.
When do peak alerts occur?
Peak alerts typically occur in the warmest summer afternoons, usually between hours of 2:00 and 6:00 p.m. During the months of June, July, and August, there will be a maximum of nine peak energy events, with no more than four in a given month. In the winter, peak alerts happen between the hours of 5:00 and 8:00 p.m.
How can I help during peak times?
Members are encouraged to avoid using appliances, adjust their thermostat, and turn off unnecessary items when a Peak Alert is issued.
If peak alerts do not resolve the demand issue, that is when we implement an emergency load reduction plan.
The difference between a Peak Alert and Max Gen Alert:
Peak Alert will be issued when energy use is expected to be very high. It does not mean there is a shortage of power, but means we can possibly avoid significant costs. Avoid using appliances, adjust your thermostat, and turn off unnecessary items.
Max Gen Alert will be issued when we are informed by MISO to reduce energy use due to high grid stress. A rolling blackout could eventually occur and may happen without advanced notice during this alert. Reduce all unnecessary usage.
How will you be notified?
PEAK ALERTS: Notice of Peak Alerts are typically posted on the website and our Facebook page. Peak Alerts are also broadcast on local radio stations.
MAX GEN EVENT: We intend to send out an e-mail and text message to all who have that information on their account, as well as our website, social media, and the local radio stations. Please make sure we have your e-mail address on file as well as cell phone listed for texting. You can sign up for this information through SmartHub, or call our office and we can make sure we get that information.