America’s Power Stresses Importance of Dispatchable Resources

At their quarterly meeting, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s Board of Directors heard concerns about the grid operator’s ability to maintain reliability amid growing demand for electricity and the premature shutdown of coal-fired power plants.

In her remarks to the group, America’s Power President and CEO Michelle Bloodworth warned that recent economic and technological trends are pushing demand for electricity sharply upwards. Citing a recent report from Grid Strategies, Bloodworth noted that “over the past year, grid planners nearly doubled the 5-year load growth forecast and are projecting a peak demand increase of 38,000 megawatts through 2028.” As America’s Power has previously warned, rapid growth in AI and demand for new data centers, manufacturing, and EVs are the driving force behind this change. Boston Consulting Group has estimated that data centers could be utilizing as much as 7.5% of all U.S. electricity by 2030.

At the same time, utilities in MISO’s footprint have announced plans to retire almost half of MISO’s existing coal-fired generation, with even more retirements likely due to EPA regulations. In particular, EPA’s Carbon Rule puts an additional 100,000 megawatts of coal-fired generation nationwide at risk of retiring prematurely.

Bloodworth urged grid operators, state utility commissioners, and stakeholders to take the following steps:

  • Before dispatchable generating capacity retires, the replacement source of electricity should be built and in operation.
  • The replacement source of electricity should have at least the same accredited capacity and reliability attributes as the retiring capacity.
  • Additional transmission that is needed to accommodate the replacement capacity should be connected to the grid. Also, the cost of new transmission should be considered in deciding whether to retire existing capacity.
  • Grid operators should identify and value all attributes that are necessary for grid reliability.

In addition, EPA rules should be designed so they do not cause or contribute to reliability problems.

By planning ahead and taking proper precautions, MISO and others can successfully address their reliability challenges.


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