SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The central U.S. from Canada down to Texas has been hot over the past few days. In this area temperatures have reached the upper 90s across northwest Iowa, southwest Minnesota and South Dakota.
“This week is the hottest of the summer and we’re doing OK,” said Chris Studer about the power supply in South Dakota. Studer is the chief member and public relations director for East River Electric which is a major energy supplier to cooperatives in South Dakota and parts of western Minnesota.
South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa and 11 other states are supplied by the Southwest Power Pool (SPP). East River is part of SPP.
Studer said recent energy demands have prompted questions about any need for rolling blackouts or even losses of power similar to what was experienced during the extreme cold from Canada to Texas in February of 2021.
Southeastern Electric Cooperative gets its energy through East River.
“(East River is) not expecting any need for rolling blackouts due to power consumption,” said John Euchner, the operations manager for Southeastern. “We’re talking summer through September.”
“(Suppliers) are forecasting we will have the energy to meet the demand…,” said Angela Catton, manager of member relations and development at Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative (NIPCO) in LeMars, Iowa.
A May 12 news release from SPP said the demand for electricity from June through September will peak at 51.1 gigawatts and that it will be prepared to serve at least 55.5 gigawatts.
The recent hot weather is test of sorts and SPP’s forecast is meeting that test so far, Studer said.
Studer said SPP’s forecast generally applies to all of South Dakota but MISO’s forecast, a non-profit that administers energy, could impact some parts of other states.
“MISO…is not as confident,” Studer said.
The arrow on the usage gauge on the NIPCO website was pushed into the red zone for peak usage as of 1:30 p.m. today, June 20.
Air conditioners were chugging along across northwest Iowa and South Dakota as temperatures reached the upper 90s in most areas today, June 20.
“The (energy) use in the past two days has obviously been at peak,” Euchner said.
Usage is high but NIPCO and Southeastern are keeping up with the demand, Euchner and Catton said.
Both cooperatives use a load management system where members sign up for management of energy use during peak demands.
Euchner said the load management covers air conditioners, water heaters and similar appliances. Commercial and industrial customers will also use generators for a period during peak demand times, he said.
The load management system in the summer is designed to reduce peaks usually in the late afternoon or early evening as heat has built during the day, Catton said.
Appliances will cycle and off during an hour instead of running constantly during a peak hour, he said.
NIPCO’s program has 18,000 control switches installed in homes and businesses in western Iowa, Catton said.
“It’s been successful,” Catton said of load management. “It’s doing it’s job.”
A load management system means the cooperatives can supply the demand during the peak periods without having to buy energy on the power market, Catton said.
The organization may forecast a 200 megawatt electric load for summer months. The load management system can shave about 16 megawatts of load from the system, Catton said.
Studer said almost 50,000 water heaters are part of a load management plan in the East River system.
The load management plan played a key role in February of 2021, Studer said. “We were able to cut several dozen megawatts of electricity,” he said. That helped reduced the length of time some customers were without power and prevented some outages, Studer said.