Extreme weather prompts emergency declarations for transmission grid operators

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) declared a Maximum Generation Event – Emergency Event Step 2c in its South Region due to the extreme cold and weather conditions causing high demand on the bulk electric system. The declaration went into effect February 15 at 6pm until 10pm ET. As part of its emergency procedures, MISO directed South Region members to make a public appeal of conservation to their customers to avoid a larger power outage.

“The frigid temperatures have increased the number of uncertainties and conditions are changing to a point where demand could exceed supply,” said Renuka Chatterjee, executive director – System Operations at MISO. “We’re moving into uncertain territory which is why we are asking the public for assistance.”

This is a highly unusual situation with current power demand nearly exceeding what current generation and transmission can supply because of the extreme weather. The situation has been taking a toll on parts of the bulk electric system limiting MISO’s ability to import electricity from neighbors that are in a similar situation.

The Maximum Generation Event – Emergency Event Step 2c notification includes instructions for Local Balancing Authorities to issue a public appeal to reduce demand.  MISO Operating Conditions FAQs provide details on the necessary steps to manage system demand and ensure grid reliability during tight situations. MISO will continue closely monitoring conditions in the South Region for the duration of the winter weather event.

Both ERCOT and Southwest Power Pool (SPP) have also requested assistance from the public to lower electricity use in order to keep the grid stable. They have been implementing rolling outages as well.

SPP declared an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) Level 3 early Tuesday morning. “Systemwide generating capacity has dropped below our current load of ~42 GW due to extremely low temperatures and inadequate supplies of natural gas,” the agency tweeted. SPP said it was working with member utilities to implement controlled interruptions of service.

ERCOT also said it would be implementing a high number of controlled outages on Tuesday. “We are optimistic that we will be able to reduce the number throughout the day,” said Dan Woodfin, Senior Director of System Operations in a tweet Tuesday morning. On Monday, the organization declared an EEA Level 3 and urged Texans to conserve energy.

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Jennifer Runyon
Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com Today, in addition to managing content on Renewable Energy World and POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference and expo for the transmission and distribution industry. In her role, she works in close cooperation with a large team of committed industry executives to shape the educational content for the event. She also helps assemble the renewable energy content for POWERGEN and helped launch the first Grid-Scale Storage Summit, a co-located event at HYDROVISION International. She has traveled to Germany to see onshore and offshore wind installations; Iceland to see geothermal energy in action; and France to see cutting-edge smart grids. In the U.S. she has visited and reported about bioenergy power plants in Florida, both large-scale and small-scale hydropower; and multiple wind farms, solar PV, and CSP installations. Formerly, she was the managing editor of Innovate Forum, an online publication that focused on innovation in manufacturing. Prior to that she was the managing editor at Desktop Engineering magazine. In 2008, she won an "Eddy Award" for her editing work on an article about solar trees in Vienna. In 2010, RenewableEnergyWorld.com was awarded an American Business Media Neal Award for its eNewsletters, which were created under her direction. She holds a Master's Degree in English Education from Boston University and a BA in English from the University of Virginia.

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