Utilities Call for Americans to Conserve Energy as Frigid Weather Exhausts Supplies

canadafreepress.com | 2/12/2019 | Institute for Energy Research
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Last month, the polar vortex brought below-zero temperatures to the Midwest and Great Plains. Over 220 million Americans experienced below-freezing temperatures across the lower-48 states, and about 26 million people were living with temperatures at or below -20 degrees. Despite the large amount of wind power in the Midwest, coal and natural gas provided about 80 percent of the electricity needed to keep the power and heat on, according to the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which manages that grid. However, utility companies in parts of the Upper Midwest had to ask customers to turn down their thermostats to ensure that there was enough natural gas to meet demand. During the extreme cold, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator declared a “maximum generation event,” calling on idle power plants from Minnesota to Louisiana to meet demand.

In Michigan, Consumers Energy—which serves 1.8 million residents—asked customers to set their temperature at 65 degrees or lower and large industrial users to lower usage. General Motors suspended operations at more than 11 plants and asked 20,000 employees at its Warren Tech Center to stay home during the worst period. Ford Motor Co. lowered the temperature at some plants and stopped heat treatment and paint production.

Consumers - Energy - Utilities - Country - Coal

Consumers Energy has boasted of being one of the most aggressive utilities in the country at closing coal plants and replacing that electricity production with natural gas and increasing amounts of renewable energy. That strategy increased demand for natural gas quickly, and since the utility services natural gas consumers for heating and business uses as well as becoming a more significant consumer of natural gas to generate electricity, it found itself with an insufficient supply of natural gas.

Natural gas demand was expected to hit 3.7 billion cubic feet, compared with a regular winter day’s average of 2.3 billion—over 60 percent higher. A...
(Excerpt) Read more at: canadafreepress.com
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