Midwest electric system ready for winter weather

Region has sufficient resources for expected conditions, contingency plans for emergencies

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) recently released its annual winter outlook in which it outlines expectations for the winter season. 

MISO is expecting a mild winter for most of its territory. January is forecasted to have the highest winter peak demand in the range of 102 to 107 gigawatts (GW), with generation supply availability expected to be 122 GW. 

“Great River Energy team members are ready to meet our responsibilities to our member owners and MISO by generating and delivering energy regardless of weather conditions,” said Great River Energy (GRE) Vice President and Chief Power Supply Officer Jon Brekke. “Great River Energy is continuing to invest in its generation and transmission assets to support grid reliability for the future.”

Among other projects, GRE and Minnesota Power are jointly developing the Northland Reliability Project, a 180-mile, 345-kilovolt electric transmission line from northern Minnesota to central Minnesota to ensure continued reliability into the future as the region transitions to greater levels of renewable energy. 

MISO stresses the importance of reliability in all seasons, particularly when entering winter and summer when demand for electricity peaks. GRE’s winter reliability plans received an important boost from a recent decision by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

The PUC unanimously approved the addition of dual fuel capability at Great River Energy’s Cambridge Peaking Station, which will enable the plant to operate on fuel oil when its primary fuel—natural gas—is either unavailable or prohibitively expensive. 

Natural gas peaking plants are an important part of overall reliability of the electric grid by providing generation at times of greatest system need. The addition of dual fuel capability will further enhance overall system reliability and help keep businesses operating and homes safe and warm.  

“Electric cooperatives serving Minnesota must be prepared for extreme winter conditions that are normal for our region,” said Great River Energy President and Chief Executive Officer David Saggau. “Dual fuel capability in Cambridge is a small but absolutely critical enhancement to meet the needs and expectations of our member-owners on the coldest nights of the year.”

Dual fuel capability at Cambridge Peaking Station is expected to be operational in time for the winter of 2025-26. (Courtesy: Great River Energy)