Even as Tropical Storm Cindy set her sights on the Gulf coast, the MISO South Operations team and member operators at eight locations were in the depths of managing a real-life hurricane scenario barreling up the Mississippi River Valley.
“This was the second of two simulated drills that we planned for this spring,” says Gerald Rusin, MISO South Operations senior advisor. “We have been planning these exercises with our members – the first to use this advanced simulator technology – for several months.”
The scenarios put operators through the paces of storm preparation and response, from early planning as a system brews in the Caribbean to the maximum impact period as it makes landfall.
“The scenario in May simulated more than 200 transmission lines out of service, numerous generation plants offline, resulting in thousands of megawatts of load lost,” Rusin says. “Hundreds of thousands of power customers would lose service under this condition.”
“The simulator creates realistic, stacked events that we have to manage in a coordinated way across the MISO footprint,” Rusin adds.
The simulation closely represents the MISO model, allowing participants to practice in the next best thing to the real world.
“These drills allow us to practice our procedures and improve our communications as a team,” says Steve Stiener, MISO senior training coordinator. “That means in an actual event, we will be better prepared to maintain the system and support restoration efforts.”
Tom Carnes, MISO South project manager, says the drills were designed to support operators.
“We focus these drills on the needs of the operator – from their perspective,” Carnes says. “These are the folks we depend on when we have real hurricane-level events in the region. This training is about preparation and practice.”
Carnes helped spearhead the planning process, working to make sure MISO’s members were able to engage completely in the exercise.
“It is so important that we have the ability to operate and speak with one voice in these events,” Carnes explains. “Drilling helps us all better understand what to expect – and how to work better to protect our combined system.”
Although Cindy lost steam without causing significant damage to the power infrastructure, the MISO team knows that may not be the case with the next storm.
Concludes Rusin, “The success of these drills demonstrates our comprehensive efforts to be prepared to protect the reliability of the electric system in all circumstances.”
Photo caption: MISO South Operations Senior Advisor Gerald Rusin and Senior Technical Trainer Steve Stiener, top left to right, lead May’s simulated hurricane drill at MISO South.