I-Team 8

Will the power stay on during Indiana’s heat wave?

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A major test of the electrical grid is coming this week as temperatures approach record-high territory.

I-Team 8 asked local electric power providers: Will the system meet demand when it hits the peak?

The bottom line, the electrical grid — or at least the people keeping an eye on it — believe the system is adequate at least during normal operations. 

Electricity in Indiana and the rest of the Midwest is managed by Carmel-based Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc., better known in the industry as MISO. The company recently said emergency conditions existed and questioned whether electricity providers had enough capacity and reserve to meet extreme weather demands.

“This is not cause for panic and it does not mean the public should expect the lights to go out in the MISO region this summer,” said in a statement from Brandon Morris, an adviser to MISO with Strategic Communications.

MISO monitors the use and distribution of electricity to 42 million people in Indiana and most of the Midwest. The company also buys electricity for its members, including AES Corp., which supplies power to Indianapolis.

Morris said in his statement, “We use the term “emergency conditions” to refer to conditions other than normal conditions. Temporary, coordinated power outages are extremely rare and a last step emergency measure implemented to protect the electric grid.”  

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission requires utilities to forecast their electricity needs and to have enough capacity to meet those needs plus a reserve. Asked if the power grid was prepared for extreme weather, Stephanie Hodgin, the deputy director of communications and media for the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, said in a statement, “It’s important to note that no system is 100% reliable all of the time things happen like weather events and unexpected equipment failure.”

One of the largest electrical providers in central Indiana is Duke Energy with 800,000 customers. Angeline Protogere, a spokesperson for Duke, told I-Team 8 the utility has upgraded equipment and its staff trains for extreme weather events, but circumstances are not always in their control.

Protogere said, “MISO may have a need under certain circumstances to tell a utility or utilities in the region to reduce the demand in the system in order to protect the electric grid.”

Ryan Hadley, executive director Indiana Office of Energy Development, said in a statement to I-Team 8, “The Midwest regional electric grid is at an increased risk of needing additional resources, especially at times the grid may become stressed by a significant heat wave or other type of long-duration event.”