I-Team 8

Is Indiana power grid ready for extreme weather, changing climate?

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Temperatures this week were expected to reach record territory, and air conditioning will be a must.

Electric companies will keep a close eye on how much power is going across the grid. As extreme weather events continue to increase in frequency, a growing need exists to prepare the electric grid for a volatile future.

“Especially right now during the extreme heat, all eyes are on the power grid,” said Kelly Young, a spokesperson for AES Indiana

AES is updating much of its older equipment, and the company expects to spend more than a billion dollars modernizing the grid, equipment and hardware. To ensure the money is being well-spent and that customers are not freezing in the winter or without air conditioning in the summer, AES Indiana has joined forces with the Electric Power Research Institute to examine the needs of the electrical grid in Indianapolis through a program called Climate READi

Young said, “As climate norms shift and extreme weather shifts in frequency and intensities, society is becoming more dependent on electricity driving an even greater need for resilient and reliable electric grid.”

Just last week, I-Team 8 reported on the potential for rolling blackouts in Indiana during periods of high demand, and that an industry report lists Indiana and the Midwest at a “high risk” of an energy capacity shortfall from generator retirements and increased demand.

Young said, “We are not at a place where we need to cause any panic by any means. I just think it is something we all need to be aware of, that we are at a high risk right now.”

AES and other utility companies say the grid can handle the demand and rolling brownouts have never been ordered in Indiana. However, as extreme weather events become more of the norm, the company is taking steps to ensure the electricity that powers your life is dependable.

Young said, “It is taking a look at the data and research, and how can we leverage that, and the insight and information to better prepare and better plan that grid.” 

The Indianapolis and central Indiana power grid does not operate in a vacuum. Over the next three years, AES, through the participation in Climate READi program, will share and receive data and insights from other grids.