It may finally be cooling down, but when some of the hottest weather in recent memory drove up demand for electricity, Great River Energy’s employees and facilities kept the power flowing.
Great River Energy’s generation and transmission resources both experienced record-setting summers.
“Our plants ran with minimal interruption, and when problems came up we fixed them quickly,” said Generation VP Rick Lancaster.
South Central Electric Association, headquartered out of St. James, is one of 28 cooperative members in Minnesota and Wisconsin that make up the Great River Energy’s cooperative network.
The network of transmission lines and substations that moves all that power also performed admirably during prolonged stretches of increased power consumption. On July 2, the Great River Energy transmission system transmitted more electricity than at any time in its history when more than 2,700 megawatts (MW) of power was passing through its lines. The previous high was approximately 2,560 MW in July 2006.
Hot and humid temperatures throughout the region, combined with low natural gas prices, spurred MISO (the region’s electric grid operator) to call peaking plants into service often.
Peaking plants only operate during periods of heightened demand for electricity, often during hot summer days.
Peaking generation records were set in May, June and July. July also marked a one-month energy production record for Great River Energy’s peaking plants.
“All of our baseload units performed consistently well, and our peaking plants responded to market signals to produce power exactly when it was needed,” said Lancaster. “Such a successful summer is a testament to the men and women who operate and maintain our generation and transmission facilities. They work hard all year long so our system can perform well during challenging times, such as heat waves.”
“Weather is a major driver of demand for electricity, and even with a slow growing economy extreme, heat puts a lot of strain on transmission infrastructure. However, our facilities were able to reliably move the power to the market,” said Transmission VP Will Kaul.
“We emphasize the importance of building and maintaining transmission infrastructure to ensure that we deliver reliable power even when the grid is under stress,” Kaul said.