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How Consumers Energy would deal with possible power shortfalls this summer

How Consumers Energy would deal with possible power shortfalls this summer

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A report from Midcontinent Independent System Operator, a nonprofit organization that operates the power grid for 15 states including Michigan, is warning there might not be enough power this summer.

The April report says Michiganders should expect rolling black/brownouts in July and August.

“We have anticipated challenges due to the changing energy landscape and have communicated our concerns through the Reliability Imperative. We have prepared for and projected resource fleet transformation, but these results underscore that more attention is required to offset the rate of acceleration,” MISO Chief Executive Officer John Bear said in an April 14 release about the report. “These results do not undermine our ability to meet the immediate needs of the system, but they do highlight the need for more capacity flexibility to reliably generate and manage uncertainty during this transition.”

Energy companies say they already have plans in place should energy shortfalls happen but they likely won’t be needed.

“That hasn’t happened in about 10 years, since 2012, and again, we feel we have the supply necessary to supply our customers with the energy they need this summer,” Consumers Energy spokesperson Josh Paciorek said Tuesday.

MISO indicated Michigan is producing less energy than what will be necessary to meet demand this summer on hot weather days, which could lead to outages. It cited, in part, an ongoing shift away from coal-fired generation and an increasing reliance on gas-fired resources and renewables.

“So those months June, July and August when we see average temperatures like they’re forecasting for this summer, more and more people will be running their air conditioner, which will require more energy to be generated in order to meet their demands,” Paciorek said.

Paciorek said if there is a shortfall, Jackson-based Consumers has the option to begin running its plants at 100%. He explained plants don’t operate that way year-round to make sure energy isn’t wasted.

He said if there are still shortfalls after that, which would be highly unlikely, Consumers would ask customers to adjust their thermostats. He says the request would be similar to the requests energy companies made during the polar vortex and following a fire at a power plant in January 2019.

“That might mean taking your thermostat and just adjusting it one to two degrees higher because if you think about it, that’s one small change that you make and you multiply it by millions of customers in Michigan, that’ll help mitigate any issues MISO is facing,” Paciorek said.

DTE Energy is also working closely with MISO. It sent the following statement to News 8 regarding potential energy shortfalls:

DTE works closely with MISO, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, to ensure our customers have the dependable energy they need to live, work and learn every day, all year long. We are the largest energy producer in the state of Michigan, and have the energy needed to serve our customers – plus reserves – even during the hottest days of summer. We also have extensive preparedness plans in place in the event of a Midwest regional MISO issue.

“When the region – not necessarily the DTE service territory – is at risk of falling short because of high demand, we are required by MISO to respond to the call to make sure as many people as possible in the Midwest have the energy they need. DTE has a large number of customers on voluntary interruptible rates that can be curtailed, if needed, to help maintain regional system reliability.

“Our focus continues to be on providing clean and reliable electricity to the residents of southeast Michigan. As we work to transition our generation fleet from coal to cleaner sources of energy like natural gas and renewables, we’ll be retiring two of our coal plants and bringing our new Blue Water Energy Center online in June to ensure we always have the power required to meet our customers’ energy needs.”

Jill Wilmot, director of electric communications, DTE

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