New study finds electrical reliability standards will be met if Lower Peninsula's planned projects are completed

January 31, 2017

New study finds electrical reliability standards will be met if Lower Peninsula’s planned projects are completed

LANSING, Mich. – Current utility projects under way now should result in Michigan's electric reliability remaining strong in the summer of 2018, according to a new modeling effort completed by the Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE) and the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) in collaboration with the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO).  Officials noted, however, that developing additional resources in the Lower Peninsula as a backup plan would be appropriate, to ensure Michigan's grid is strong even if things do not go as planned.  

The study, which was requested in August, looked at a very challenging situation – one in which electrical demand hits very high levels (i.e. a very hot day) and two nuclear plants (Palisades and Fermi) were unexpectedly down, as occurred in 2012. 

“The good news is that if all goes as planned, lower Michigan should be able to keep the lights on even in a challenging time,” said Valerie Brader, MAE’s executive director.  “The study also shows us, however, that we probably want to build more of a cushion between now and the summer of 2018 just in case things don’t go as planned.”

Demand response resources, which are essentially users agreeing to use less electricity when demand is spiking, are likely to be both cost-effective and can be put in place before the summer of 2018, said Sally Talberg, chairman of the MPSC. 

“This assessment comes at a good time, because it helps us understand what we need to be doing now to ensure Michigan’s consumers are served in a reliable, cost-effective manner,” Talberg said.  “The fact that we still have time to put into place what the model suggested is our most economical choice is good news.”

Both businesses and residents have the opportunity to benefit financially by signing up for demand response programs.  Residential customers can sign up time-of-use rates or for air conditioning cycling programs that allow utilities to shift (for 15 minutes) when an air conditioner turns on to keep the house at the set temperature, in return for a lowering of summer cooling bills.  Businesses can sign up for programs where they receive a break in their bills for curtailing load. More information on Consumers Energy’s demand response program is available here. DTE residential customers can learn more here; DTE business customers can learn more here.

MAE and MPSC praised MISO for providing vital resources and working closely with Michigan staff to complete the study quickly.

“MISO was a great partner on this and helped us get answers we needed in a time frame where we could do something about them,” Brader said.

The study, which was run after the fire at DTE Electric Company’s St. Clair plant, points to the importance of either that plant fully returning for the summer of 2018 as currently planned, or resources being developed to offset any gap that would result if the plant did not come back fully in time.

The study took into account the ability to import power, but imports alone would not allow lower Michigan to meet its reliability standards in the very challenging scenario that was modeled. 

Much of the work that was done to run this study is the same work that would be needed to conduct the study Governor Snyder requested regarding linking the Upper Peninsula to Ontario, Canada at Sault Ste. Marie and strengthening the link between the upper and lower peninsulas, so both MISO and MAE have already completed the preliminary work necessary to conduct those studies and will now move to completing that work.

For more information about MAE, please visit www.michigan.gov/energy.

For more information about MPSC, please visit www.michigan.gov/mpsc.

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