Who can forget the final two days of January 2019 when we wore three pairs of socks, two sweaters and extra gloves? The unfortunate people who had to venture outside felt the sharp sting of frigid air. This was no “Polar Express” excursion. Rather, an Arctic blast buffeted parts of MISO Central and North regions on January 30 and 31, dropping temperatures to as low as minus 30 degrees (ambient air). This “Big Chill” set a temperature record for MISO.
Our MISO Operations team has not forgotten those two days. In fact, our Operations team continues to analyze this event and looks for lessons learned. They presented a summary of operations during the event to the MISO Reliability Subcommittee on February 27. In short, the report observes that a combination of high load from the extremely cold temperatures, unavailable generation and uncertainty in load and supply created challenges throughout the event. Total outages were higher than previous cold weather events with approximately 25% of total generating capacity unavailable due to unplanned outages or unexpected outages. This was approximately 80% of all the MISO outages during that period.
MISO was ready to meet this challenge. With all of the Winter Readiness planning, the MISO grid remained reliable, thanks to the joint efforts of MISO staff and its members. Two Maximum Generation (Emergency) events, which allow MISO greater flexibility and access to additional resources, were called for the Central and North regions by MISO on January 30 and 31 to reliably manage the grid and maintain public safety and well-being.
Most importantly, the MISO community and its members pulled together to reliably meet planned and actual obligations even with the extreme temperatures, public safety concerns and forced outage risks during such a historically significant event.