Load Curtailment

We’re asking members to reduce electricity consumption if they can in a collective effort to help provide relief to our Midwest electric grid. Adams-Columbia may be directed to curtail load causing members to experience electric interruptions this summer.


What is a load curtailment?

A load curtailment is a planned, controlled interruption of service that occurs when there the power generation supply cannot keep up with the demand of electricity on the regional electric grid. Curtailments move from one area to the next so that power isn’t out for too long in one location. In our case, this includes the Midwest region of our country. Weather in other areas of the Midwest may dictate when load curtailments happen and is out of our control. Load curtailments may be required based on regional electricity demands, not based on ACEC’s distribution system.


Who initiates load curtailments?

Midcontinent Independent System Operators (MISO) makes the decision if load curtailments need to be initiated. Alliant Energy, our wholesale power provider, is part of MISO. MISO is responsible for managing the generation and transmission of electricity within 15 U.S. states and Manitoba, Canada. They ensure the right amount of electricity is being generated, not just for Alliant Energy customers, but for all of the electric companies that are part of MISO. However, when there is more demand for electricity than normal, MISO alters their operations to avoid overloading the electric grid resulting in the call for load curtailments.

The 15 states that MISO covers are Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin. They also cover Manitoba, Canada as well. To learn more about MISO, please visit their website.


How do they happen?

When abnormally hot weather occurs, home cooling and other electronics are working overtime to ensure they’re doing their job. For example, home thermostats may be set to 71 degrees in the summertime. When the outside temperature reaches high 90’s, your home cooling system is working much harder than it typically would to ensure your home continues to stay at the cool 71 degrees.

Extremely hot days in the forecast and increased peak demand lead to an alternative plan of action for MISO, who has a multi-step action plan for these peak demand times. Each step is carefully coordinated as the need for electricity escalates.


How long will it last?

If we receive indication from Alliant Energy that we need to reduce our electric load, we hope to receive more detailed information on the duration of the load curtailment. We estimate that the duration of an interruption of service may last 1-4 hours.


What can ACEC control?

We communicate to our members the importance of reducing electricity consumption. We continue to work closely with Alliant Energy, who we purchase power from, to minimize the impact on our members. Asking our members to decrease electricity consumption is not a decision we take lightly; and a load curtailment will only occur if ACEC is directed to do so for the safety of the regional grid.

We’re in a tough spot for a situation like this because we don’t generate our own power. We purchase power from Alliant Energy. In a normal outage situation, we may be able to supply power to members from a different substation on our system. But this scenario is different since it’s a decision that is determined by MISO and is out of our control.


Is there anything Alliant Energy can do?

Alliant Energy has interruptible customers who have agreed to have their power reduced if needed. They also schedule generator outages to avoid expected periods of high demand and can encourage their customers to voluntarily reduce their energy usage during peak demand.

Alliant Energy and ACEC’s goal is that nobody loses power, but periodic – and temporary – power outages are an extreme final step that, if MISO deems necessary, may be declared to prevent widespread outages when there is too much demand on the system. If MISO initiates this step, these interruptions, which could last a few hours, would occur across the MISO region in a way that minimizes the impact to customers and considers critical services such as hospitals.


What if I have a medical device or need a cooling center?

Continue to use electrical devices that are necessary for life support. Please consider making alternate plans in case interruption in electric service becomes necessary. To locate a cooling center near you, which may offer electric hook up, please visit 211’s website.

We always recommend having a backup power supply if you have a medical condition, aside from load curtailment situations. As much as we’d love to guarantee power 100% of the time, unfortunately there are forces out of our control that may cause power outages and we want our members to be prepared. If a curtailment does occur, we will do our best to keep it a short duration. Preparations should be made by those with medical conditions no different than how you may prepare for a storm that could cause outages.

If you or someone you care for is dependent on life-supporting medical devices, make a plan in case service interruption becomes necessary. We also encourage you to share the information with others who could be affected but may not receive ACEC updates, for example, an elderly neighbor or a loved one.


What can members do to reduce their energy?

Here are a few tips to reduce your energy during the dog days of summer:

  • Instead of using your dryer, hang clothes outside to dry
  • Grill meals outside instead of cooking indoors
  • Reduce the temperature of your water heater
  • Increase your thermostat a few degrees
  • Close blinds and avoid opening exterior doors to keep cool air indoors
  • Use a power strip to turn off electronics that aren’t being used
  • Wait until later in the evening to use bigger appliances and electronics that required electricity to avoid the peak demand period

Everyone’s lifestyle is different, so we can’t exactly say something may be less important for you to use compared to someone else. We recommend reviewing the list of energy-saving tips on our website to see where you can conserve energy.

In addition to reducing your electric consumption, have an emergency kit ready as you would with any other power outage situation. Items you may want to keep in your emergency kit include:

  • Emergency phone numbers
  • Flashlights
  • Water and nonperishable foods
  • Blankets
  • First-aid kit
  • Common tools
  • Personal hygiene products
  • Clothes
  • Items for your pets

We appreciate your cooperation and greatly appreciate your reduction of electricity during peak demand times.