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    REMC warns of possible rolling blackouts


    June 15, 2022 - Travis Weik

     

      The Henry County Commissioners had an emergency meeting Monday at Henry County REMC because of possible power outages, called "rolling blackouts."

      A "rolling blackout" is a controlled, temporary power outages that power grid operators use to manage the grid when supply and demand fall out of balance. According to Constellation Energy Resources, cutting power in a controlled and brief manner protects sensitive equipment from being overloaded and allows utilities to carefully bring systems back into supply-and-demand harmony.

      Henry County REMC is preparing for possible rolling blackouts after an announcement from MISO (Midcontinent Independent System Operator), the organization responsible for operating the member-based power grid across the Midwest region.

      Henry County REMC CEO Melissa True said the possible rolling blackouts this summer would be due to a shortage of energy capacity.

      A May 2022 industry report by North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NAERC) predicted MISO is at high risk of "potential for insufficient operating reserves in normal peak conditions."

      Specifically, the NAERC report points to "more extreme temperatures, higher generation outages, or low wind conditions" as factors putting the MISO region – including Henry County – at risk.

      "The electricity shortage is partially due to supply issues with getting renewable energy resources online in the originally expected timeframe, along with the closing of coal-fired generation plants across the country," True said in a press release . "It will be essential to manage rolling blackouts to keep the entire grid functioning and reduce any long-term damage that could cause more prolonged outages."

      The Midwest is not the only region facing rolling blackouts to balance the power grid. NAERC found that extreme drought conditions are threatening electricity supply out West that depend on hydroelectric power.

      The majority of MISO's overall power generation comes from natural gas. Coal is the second most-used fuel in the local grid, followed by nuclear power.

      HCREMC is working on plans along with Hoosier Energy, its energy supplier, to handle the situation if it comes to the local co-op having to reduce the electric load on the grid.

      "We will do our best to make the outage times as short as possible and keep you informed," True said.

      Ways we can help

      True said Henry County REMC customers can help control the electricity demand, which will help keep the system stable on the hottest days this summer.

      "If everyone can increase their thermostat by a few degrees, adjust the temperature of their water heaters, and select times of the day that are cooler to run your dishwasher or clothes dryer, it will all help to make a difference," True said. "These minor adjustments could reduce the time we see outages this summer."

      Local residents with a medical need that requires consistent electricity should have a backup plan in case of an outage, regardless of who their electricity provider is.

      Refrigerators and freezers should be left closed during a blackout so the food does not spoil.

      Generators should also be run outdoors, not inside.

      The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security offers other advice for managing and surviving power outages at the website Ready.gov/ power-outages.

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