You may have seen stories or heard the news of people in Texas gripped by freezing temperatures and are now part of mandatory blackouts. It's natural to think since we're getting more snow and colder temperatures here in the Midwest as well, that similar fates may be awaiting us all. Rest assured that for several reasons, members of Northeastern REMC are prepared for our winter weather. Here are three things that will help you understand why these extreme measures will not affect NREMC members:
1. Rolling blackouts happen because electric demand is exceeding supply. Sometimes when situations are severe like snow and ice in Texas or unbearable heat waves in the Midwest, people begin to use more electricity than they usually would to heat and cool their homes. When the outside air is extremely cold or hot, your furnace and air conditioners work much harder and much longer to maintain a comfortable temperature. When everybody in an entire region is also doing this, at the same time, the additional strain is put on the system becomes nearly unbearable. Actions must be taken to protect the critical infrastructure for hospitals and emergency services.
2. Rolling Blackouts are ordered by Regional Transmission Organizations (RTO's). Just as police are charged with protecting and serving the general public, RTO's are charged with protecting and serving the electric grid. Though the country is interconnected to some degree, these RTO’s act independently to protect their region. They maintain constant awareness of energy flows, generating facility maintenance schedules, new transmission construction projects, and more. They keep track of all these things to handle how much energy is needed in their region to make sure that when people need to turn on the light switch or power up a heater, the power will be available. However, when everyone is trying to stay warm in a winter weather disaster, wind turbines freeze, snow-covers solar panels, and natural gas supplies become scarce to generate extra electricity, the plan must change and change quickly. In these situations, RTOs know that they have to reduce the demand because the supply is not limitless. If they don't, it could cause a cascading blackout that could destroy parts of the nationwide grid.
3. Our RTO is ready. The regional transmission organization that we belong to is called PJM. This may sound familiar, at the beginning of the year, we notified all of our members that they would see an increase in their bills due to increased transmission and capacity costs from PJM. This means our RTO has been making investments into the critical infrastructure and ensuring that we have surplus energy available when weather conditions become extreme. We're tough folks out here, and even though it costs a bit more to support our electric grid at times, we are ready and prepared for when mother nature gives us her worst.
Read more about 2021 PJM preparedness
If you'd like to know a little more about regional transition organizations or how they impact us here in Northeastern territory, give us a call or email us anytime.
We like getting nerdy about electricity.