Editorial: Be careful before eliminating any energy source | Editorial

Journal Times Editorial Board

You don’t have to look far to see the impact of climate change with rising temperatures, increased fire threats in some areas and droughts in others.

It is only fair that government officials and companies are looking for ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to try to do what can be done to reduce climate change.

That said, we also need to take the time to consider the unintended consequences that can arise if action is taken too quickly.

The Midwest’s grid operator – the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) – warned this year that power generation capacity in the region, including Minnesota and Wisconsin, could be about 1,230 megawatts lower. at peak demand possible. With above-average temperature forecasts, MISO said it may have to rely on imports or emergency measures to maintain the network. The operator also warned Wisconsin was at high risk of potential power outages.

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Since the publication of this report, We Energies has said that people need not worry about power outages.

Before the blackouts were scheduled, We Energies would first call on the public to reduce energy consumption – asking customers to turn off the lights as much as possible, turn off the air conditioning, that sort of thing and it doesn’t matter. has never happened before in the history of We Energies. .

It is important to note that if Wisconsin power producers do not meet demand, electricity could be imported from nearby power grids. Wind power generated in Iowa could fill the gaps in Wisconsin, and vice versa. This is thanks to the system put in place by MISO.

Even though we’re told not to worry about power outages this summer, Wisconsin Public Service Commission member Ellen Nowak was right when she said the report should serve as a “wake-up call.”

She said, “I’m not pressing the panic button, but it’s a warning sign. I think it’s a good reality check on how the system works. She called for continuing to delay the retirement of fossil fuel generators.

The reason the question of possible power outages has been raised is as a result of the shutdown of some power plants in the Midwest, reducing the amount of additional power beyond the predicted peak loads that the entire grid can produce.

That said, We Energies and Alliant Energy (which supplies much of central and southwestern Wisconsin) recently extended the life of several coal-fired power plants in the state by several years. This will help stabilize power in the state.

Two of the units at We Energies’ Oak Creek plant, located just north of Caledonia, were scheduled to close in early 2023 and the other two were scheduled to close in early 2024. Now they are due to retire in May 2024 and November 2025. , respectively.

Looking to the future, a lot of due diligence needs to be done before these factories are permanently closed. It helps to have several diverse power sources in the Midwest. The last thing we want to do is put lives at risk if there isn’t enough energy to meet demand.

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