Rolling blackouts reveal differences between Minnesota and California

Rolling blackouts in California have been making headlines and sparking questions across the country, particularly in regions such as the Midwest that are seeing rapid renewable energy growth. Many of our member-owners are asking the same question: “Could this happen here?”

There is a fundamental difference between California and Minnesota that makes our situations quite different: California’s dependence on solar energy. Rolling blackouts are occurring shortly after sundown when solar resources stop generating while temperatures remain high and air conditioner use continues.

Solar energy makes up a very small percentage of the generating resources in MISO, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator electricity market, so the region does not experience sharp drop-offs in energy production associated with widespread reliance on solar generating resources.

Great River Energy, Arrowhead Cooperative’s power supplier, has been a part of the MISO electricity market since 2005. As a member of MISO, they must have sufficient generating capacity to meet their members’ peak load plus reserves. Great River Energy’s generating capacity is, and will always be, more than sufficient to provide reliability services and meet MISO requirements.

Great River Energy has a fleet of modern natural gas plants in Minnesota that provide all-hours reliability. Most of these plants have on-site backup fuels. They have also built new transmission across the region to ensure energy can be delivered to their members. And, in partnership with member-owner cooperatives, they have developed one of the country’s most robust demand response programs which allows them to effectively reduce electric loads during extreme conditions.

Great River Energy has the resources they need to ensure electricity is there for Arrowhead Cooperative and our members.

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