Indiana Republicans challenge Biden administration over potential rolling blackouts

(WISH) — Members of Indiana’s Congressional delegation are demanding answers about the possibility of rolling electricity blackouts in the state this summer.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has warned the Midwest, including Indiana, is at a “high risk” for energy shortfalls during peak conditions this summer.

The NERC report cites “capacity shortfall from generator retirements and increased demand.”

News 8 has obtained an exclusive copy of a letter to federal officials written by Reps. Jackie Walorski and Greg Pence, and signed by all nine Republican members of Indiana’s Congressional delegation.

The letter, addressed to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Richard Glick, seeks details on a Biden Administration plan to prevent summer power outages and blackouts.

“The radical transition away from traditional fuel sources has exacerbated current grid vulnerabilities, leaving families and manufacturers susceptible to an unexpected generation supply shock,” the letter states.

The letter cites an NERC estimate that the Midwest region could face a 2.3% energy shortfall compared to 2021, and points to a potential impact on families and industries.

“As one of the largest manufacturing centers in the nation, Indiana relies on a secure, reliable, and resilient electrical grid to produce American-made goods and sustain a robust workforce,” Rep. Walorski wrote.

The letter comes just days after an I-Team 8 report on questions about the energy supply during a record heat wave in Indiana.

A FERC spokesperson released a statement to News 8 in response.

The statement reads, ““The Commission will respond to the members of Congress in due course.  With respect to the reliability of the bulk power system, FERC remains vigilant in working to enhance the reliability of the Bulk Power System in the face of increasingly frequent incidents of extreme weather that have adversely impacted all types of electric generation.” 

Carmel-based Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc. (MISO), which operates most of the Midwest power grid, recently said emergency conditions existed and questioned whether electrical providers had enough capacity and reserve to meet extreme weather demands.

AES Indiana told I-Team 8 it has plans in place for additional power demand during the heat wave.

“We know our customers are concerned about potential blackouts and power outages, but we have plans in place,” AES spokesperson Kelly Young said. “We have a team that can work to reduce and shift energy usage during peak periods. We’re issuing tips and alerts as often as we can to keep our customers informed.”