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 increases the risk of 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.
MISO may activate emergency plans, resulting in load shedding (reducing the electricity demand) 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 using dishwashers, washers, dryers, and other non-essential electricity items. These measures take some pressure off the grid to help keep the lights on and avoid blackouts.
Dairyland Power Cooperative has enough generation capacity to reliability supply Riverland Energy and the other 24 cooperatives on their system. However, being interconnected to the entire Midwest changes electricity supply and demand.
Per MISO requirements, the grid operator must 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 to align the electricity demand with the available power supply. We may then be required to rotate outages to help preserve the system's reliability.
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 back up 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 notice, when possible. Once notified by MISO to shed load, the cooperative is obligated to respond within minutes. Therefore, advanced notice to members can be a challenge.
A limited number of times throughout the summer and winter months, Dairyland Power Cooperative will approach a period when energy use is expected to be very high and we'll issue a Peak Alert. This aims to reduce electricity used during the time of day when power use peaks. This could be winter mornings or evenings when heaters are working overtime, or late summer afternoons when the temperatures are the highest.
The idea behind this is to shift energy usage way from the times when demand is highest. Doing so could save the cooperative and it's member's significant money over time by keeping the 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 afternoon, usually between the hours of 2:00 p.m. 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 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
How can I help during peak times?
Members are encourages to avoid using appliances, adjust their thermostats, and turn off unnecessary items when a Peak Alert has been issued.
If Peak Alerts do not resolve the demand issue, that is when we implement an emergency load reduction plan.