by Sean J. Vanslyke | email@example.com
“Midcontinent (Independent System Operator - MISO) faces a (electricity) capacity shortfall in its North and Central areas, resulting in high risk of energy emergencies during peak summer conditions. MISO will have 3,200 MW (2.3%) less generation capacity than in the summer of 2021. System operators in MISO are more likely to need operating mitigations, such as load modifying resources or non-firm imports, to meet reserve requirements under normal peak summer conditions. More extreme temperatures, higher generation outages, or low wind conditions expose the MISO North and Central areas to higher risk of temporary operator-initiated load shedding to maintain system reliability." North American Electric Reliability Corporation's (NERC) 2022 Summer Reliability Assessment - nerc.com
NERC's warning of potential blackouts this summer has garnered a lot of attention from those paying attention. What is NERC? NERC is a not-for-profit international regulatory authority that assures the effective and efficient reduction of risks to the reliability and security of the electricity grid. In simple terms, they monitor the nation's power system for reliability.
Based on NERC's assessment, The Wall Street Journal said, “The threat to the Midwest (power) grid will increase in coming years as more coal and nuclear plants shut down. The forced transition to green energy is distorting energy markets and destabilizing the grid. The problem now is the loss of baseload generators that can provide reliable power 24/7. Solar and wind are rapidly increasing, but they’re as erratic as the weather and can’t be commanded to ramp up when electricity demand surges.”
What does this all mean? The Midwest, and other parts of the United States, should prepare for summer blackouts. Why? There are many issues at play, but we have to have baseload power – coal and nuclear – to stabilize the grid. We can’t put our head in the sand and hope something will help us. It may take a second perfect energy storm, like Winter Storm Uri, for elected leaders to stand tall and take meaningful action to protect our reliability.
There is some good news. SEMO Electric and our cooperative family, which includes Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AECI), is in good shape as we are independent. We don’t belong to MISO. We do have 200 interconnects with other systems that we have to continually monitor to balance loads. We work hard to protect our system. Many systems around us had blackouts in February 2021 due to Winter Storm Uri. We, humbly, were able to keep the lights on and fiber flowing. While nothing is guaranteed, we do plan ahead and take pride in being independent. We take pride in working together to make your life better.
We need a mix of generation resources for the sake of reliability. We need solar, wind, hydro, natural gas, coal and nuclear. People may not care now, but we should. When blackouts occur, it will be a mess. People count on electricity. My family certainly does.
Book of the Month: “Exceptional individuals are made, not born. And that's a good thing - because that puts this level of excellence within reach of you and me. However humble our beginnings, we can take command of ourselves - becoming caring and responsible stewards of what we learn, think, know, say, and do - and then extend our stewardship into the world so others, too, can benefit.” Be Exceptional by Joe Navarro
Be smart. Act safe. #keeppushingforward
Sean is the general manager and chief executive officer of SEMO Electric Cooperative and GoSEMO Fiber.