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Michigan utility companies preparing for possible power shortages this summer

Posted at 5:38 PM, May 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-24 17:38:31-04

HILLSDALE, Mich. — The Hillsdale Board of Public Utilities is preparing for the possibility of power shortages this summer.

It could be a problem all across the state.

According to officials from Hillsdale BPU theMidcontinent System Operator, which is the organization that oversees the power grid in 15 states including Michigan, is warning of possible power shortages this summer during peak time demands.

Hillsdale BPU Marketing and Communications Coordinator Sam Fry says the Midcontinent System Operator is forecasting a summer peak of 124 gigawatts with only 119 gigawatts of regularly available generation.

In a written statement, Fry said there are two predominant factors driving the situation.

There’s been an increase in energy usage as the effects of the pandemic ease and a MISO report found sources of electricity such as coal burning plants were being phased out due to economic, regulatory and environmental pressures while aging equipment like gas turbines that remain in service may be more prone to unplanned outages and supply chain issues, he said.

So, to prevent grid failure, MISO may ask energy companies such as Hillsdale BPU and Consumers Energy to load-shed.

Electrical Grid
Electrical grid

Concumers Energy Electric Grid Integration Vice President Tim Sparks said it just means electric utilities would turn off certain circuits for a certain period of time when MISO asks them to do so.

“And then turn them back and kind of rotate around their electric system because you always have to keep the electric generation that’s available with the electric load that’s being served or you could cascade into a having a larger blackout situation in the part of the system that you are upgrading,” he said.

Sparks says the biggest probability of load-shedding would be during a longer stretch of hot weather.

“I think it would be a very, very rare occasion,” he said. “We’ve never had to do that in the Midwest. In order for something like that potentially to happen as if we had extreme hot weather for multiple days in a row.”

Even so, both the Hillsdale BPU and Consumers Energy say during the hot summer months to try using your washer, dryer and dishwasher in the early morning or late in the evening.

Hillsdale Board of Public Utilities
Hillsdale Board of Public Utilities

“That would be much better to reduce the usage,” Sparks said. “You can also close the drapes if you have them in your home to keep the sun out and keep the heating down in your home. Ultimately, just set your thermostat up a couple extra degrees particularly during the afternoon hours on those hot days because that will help cycle your air conditioners less and they will draw less electricity by doing that.”

Fry said they are working to ensure critical services are uninterrupted during temporary or sustained power outages.

“Critical care customers who depend on electricity for oxygen or other life-sustaining medical equipment should have an emergency back-up plan in the event of an outage,” Fry said. “They should also contact us if they have not done so already.”

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