Electric system passes early summer test

Great River Energy’s system performed well in early June despite the stretch of temperatures repeatedly reaching above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We did not experience any overloading on the transmission system, and we did not need to make any special operational changes except for some equipment maintenance work schedule changes,” said Great River Energy Operations and Transmission Services Director Dick Pursley.

Every resource in Great River Energy’s power supply portfolio played a role in serving its member-owner cooperatives. Natural gas peaking plants generated when called into service, and wind resources produced energy throughout the week.

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), which oversees operations of the regional electric grid, issued a series of alerts throughout the week to maintain reliability, culminating with a maximum generation emergency on June 10. The MISO system peaked at 109.7 gigawatts (GW) the afternoon of June 10. MISO projects its 2021 summer peak will be 122 GW.

Great River Energy and its member-owner cooperatives took measures throughout the week to reduce electric consumption during periods of heightened energy use. Demand response programs allow cooperatives to take limited control of certain end-uses, such as air conditioners, and shift energy consumption to lower demand periods. By reducing demand associated with participating devices, cooperatives can prevent unneeded strain on the electric system. Some cooperatives also work with local farmers to move periods of irrigation — a major electric load — to more advantageous times of day.

“These actions help keep electricity reliable and allow cooperatives to avoid purchasing electricity when it’s most expensive,” said Great River Energy Member Services and End Use Strategy Manager Jeff Haase.

According to Great River Energy President and Chief Executive Officer David Saggau, Great River Energy’s system worked as designed during the early June heat.

“We plan for extreme events like these,” Saggau said. “We pride ourselves on our preparation, and our employees and resources rose to the challenge this month.”