Potential Energy Shortfall Explained
CFU and many utilities in the Midwest are members of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO).
For many years the MISO region had the capacity to produce more electricity than needed by customers.
The excess energy capacity has been shrinking. This is largely due to retirements of fuel-dependent plants fired by coal natural gas or nuclear fuel. For example the Duane Arnold Energy Center nuclear plant in Iowa was retired in 2020.
There have been many other retirements of nuclear and coal-fired plants throughout the upper Midwest due to economic regulatory and environmental pressures.
These plants provided reliable power 24/7. According to The North American Electric Reliability Corporation the MISO region will have 2.3% less generation capacity this year than in the summer of 2021.
There have been large additions of wind generation to the electric grid and significant additions of solar arrays are expected soon.
However wind and solar are intermittent resources that do not provide certainty when planning for days with high electric demand.
Power outages are rare in Cedar Falls. Our local distribution system is well-built and maintained as are our local generating resources including the Streeter Station power plant and natural gas turbines.
Thanks to conservation efforts by many of you our community’s peak electric demand has not increased since 2013.
Maintaining our local generating units and holding our electric demand steady has benefited our community. However keeping the interconnected regional power grid functioning is a group effort. All utilities in our region could be required by MISO to do our part to cut electric demand in an emergency.