A record-breaking heat wave hit California in August, causing the state’s three biggest utilities to cut power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses for about an hour at a time until the emergency declaration ended a few hours later.
These rolling blackouts — the first California experienced in nearly 20 years — made headlines and sparked questions across the country. Dakota Electric and its power supplier, Great River Energy, are receiving the same question, “Could this happen here?”
Unlike California, most utilities in Minnesota are part of a large and geographically diverse energy market coordinated by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO). MISO is responsible for transmission planning and generation dispatch across a 15-state region. The generating resources in the MISO energy market reflect a wide variety of fuel sources that work together to provide you with safe and reliable power. Great River Energy has been a MISO market participant since its establishment in 2005.
In addition to energy markets, MISO is responsible for overall system reliability and guidelines. These rules, which every utility in MISO must follow, ensure the grid has enough resources for everyone. As a MISO market participant, Great River Energy must have enough generating capacity to supply Dakota Electric’s energy demands plus a reserve margin.
“We have a fleet of modern natural gas plants in Minnesota that provide all-hours reliability,” said Great River Energy President & CEO David Saggau. “Most of these plants have on-site backup fuels. Additionally, we have built new transmission across the region to ensure energy can be delivered to our members. And, in partnership with our member-owner cooperatives, we have developed one of the country’s most robust demand response programs, allowing us to effectively reduce electric loads during extreme conditions.”
Rolling blackouts are only used as a last resort by grid operators, so MISO works aggressively with Great River Energy to maintain a resilient electric grid for Dakota Electric.
Grid resiliency is many things — it’s the reliability of your electric service, it’s our ability to quickly and efficiently restore your power, it’s being able to meet the demands of new technologies and it’s how we serve you with various generation sources without skipping a beat. Resiliency is a 24/7, year-round task.