Potential risk of electric service interruptions this summer across our region
As summer approaches, regional operators of the electric grid are projecting an elevated risk of electricity shortages in our area. These projections are due to:
- Warmer than normal forecasted temperatures.
- Greater amounts of intermittent renewable generation, such as wind and solar, in the current power supply mix that may not be available when needed.
- Retirements of fossil-fueled power plants that can fill the gap when the wind doesn’t blow, or the sun doesn’t shine.
- Public policy driving the pace of change to clean energy faster than new technologies can be developed to fill the gap.
Electricity is a unique product in the fact that the generation of electricity must be kept in balance with the usage of electricity at all times. Under normal conditions, regional grid operators ramp generators up or down to match the demand for electricity. If the demand for electricity outpaces available generation, then grid operators issue Energy Alerts or even Energy Emergency alerts to balance the electric system to avoid catastrophic failure of the grid.
If Energy Alert or Energy Emergency conditions occur this summer, regional utilities will run all types of available generation to prevent electrical outages. Should such an event occur, Willmar Municipal Utilities is prepared to run our local generators, and we may call upon local businesses that have generators to do the same. Other steps include operating our load management system, which cycles air conditioners and water heaters off and on for brief periods.
During an ENERGY ALERT, WMU will ask you, our customers, to reduce your energy use as much as possible to help us avoid outages. Some of the ways you can help are turning up your thermostat a few degrees, close your drapes or blinds to keep the sun out, shut off all unnecessary lights and equipment, and delay using large appliances like ovens, washing machines and dishwashers until later in the evening.
If these and other measures are not successful, the regional grid operator will issue an ENERGY EMERGENCY.
This will require that utilities initiate a series of controlled temporary outages, or rolling blackouts, to maintain the stability of the electric grid. In that situation, Willmar Municipal Utilities will methodically shut off electrical circuits in the community, one after the other, with outages expected not to last more than 2 hours.
If you rely on life support equipment in your home, please let us know as soon as possible at 320-235-4422.
Although we can’t control energy emergencies, Willmar Municipal Utilities and our power supplier, Missouri River Energy Services, are prepared to do everything possible to keep the lights on and keep homes and businesses running.
Please listen for radio announcements on local radio stations, KWLM 1340 AM, KQIC 102.5 FM, KOLV 100.1 FM, and KLFN 106.5 FM, and follow us on Facebook for updates and information.
WMU would like to extend a sincere THANK YOU in advance for doing your part.