February 2021 Cold Weather Event
How is Minnkota managing the cold weather event?
- Minnkota Power Cooperative generates and transmits energy on the high-voltage electric grid for North Star Electric Cooperative. Minnkota is working closely with the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), our regional reliability coordinator, to ensure that it is preserving the reliability and integrity of the Upper Midwest’s electric grid during this extreme and prolonged cold weather event.
- MISO works with all utilities throughout our region to ensure adequate generation and transmission resources are available to meet the needs of electric consumers at all hours of the day. With the cold weather, electric consumption is currently very high – so much so that there are potential challenges with the resources that are available.
- Because of this situation, MISO has issued a mandatory Maximum Generation Event. This emergency order is primarily due to the lack of generation and transmission resources available and the rising demand for energy. This emergency event allows MISO to take control of all utility systems and make decisions that aim to ensure the overall reliability of the grid.
Why are there limited resources available?
- Extreme and prolonged cold weather in our area and across the entire country have contributed to high demand for electricity. Decreased wind generation, natural gas supply issues and other generator outages have contributed to potential shortages in electricity supply. Transmission constraints have also presented challenges.
Does Minnkota anticipate system issues or outages?
- We understand that this weather provides difficulties and challenges for electric consumers in the region. We have people working around the clock to ensure the region’s electric grid is operating as reliably as possible.
- The situation continues to evolve rapidly. Minnkota has been affected by regional grid issues and has been temporarily curtailed in some areas. Impacts thus far have been limited.
How have Minnkota’s generation resources performed?
- The coal-based Milton R. Young Station – a key generation resource for Minnkota – has served as the backbone of the cooperative’s system and performed well during the cold weather event. The Young Station, located 40 miles from Bismarck, N.D., has an advantage over other generation resources because the power plant and coal mine are located adjacent to each other. This means that there are virtually no constraints in delivering fuel to the facility.
- The performance of the Young Station has helped limit Minnkota’s need to purchase energy from the MISO market, where surplus energy prices have been extremely high due to the lack of power generation and transmission resources available to meet the rising demand for energy.
- Minnkota has utilized its demand response program to curtail electric consumption at certain periods during the cold weather event.
What is demand response?
- The demand response program is voluntary for consumers who allow Minnkota to control dual fuel heating systems, water heaters, storage heaters and commercial loads with backup generators. During these control periods, consumers are automatically switched from electricity to an alternate fuel source, such as propane, fuel oil or large diesel generators. In exchange for voluntarily participating in the demand response program, the consumer receives a discounted electric rate.
How long will Minnkota be controlling loads through the demand response program?
- Due to the Maximum Generation Event, MISO can require Minnkota to initiate demand response and control off-peak loads.
- With the continued forecast for extreme cold, our expectation is that we will be required to control load periodically throughout the event. Participants in demand response have been notified of this situation. It is our goal to avoid prolonged control periods and return full service to consumers as quickly as possible.