Rolling power outage warning

NOW: Rolling power outage warning

WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- This summer brings with it the unpopular potential for rolling power outages. That warning tonight to Wisconsin power companies from the organization that oversees electrical needs across the Midwest. 

The Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) has Wisconsin in a high-risk category for energy emergencies now through August. 

Members of MISO are right now training for worst-case summer scenarios. A spokesman tells us there's a "potential need for emergency procedures to keep the system in balance as well as the need for increased reliance on imports."

"The warning was really to companies like ours, to say we're a little bit shorter in our total capacity across these 15-state footprint than we were last year, so make sure your plants are up and running, make sure that you're able to meet that peak need," said Brendan Conway, WE Energies spokesman. 

We certainly saw a peak need last August when storms caused widespread power outages here. A report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation indicates something like that has the potential this summer to force power companies to start a rolling outage to maintain grid reliability, but We Energies says not to worry, believing they've got enough to meet demand. 

"Here's like a normal day just in the MISO grid. Way over here would be forced outages right? MISO has all sorts of things that they can proactively do to make sure that that doesn't happen," Conway said. 

Three reasons Wisconsin's in the high-risk category: hot weather and predictions for a sticky summer of above-normal temperatures, a growing demand for power, and the retirement of coal-powered plants. 

"We think it's unlikely that we're gonna see any forced outages here, but I think MISO is being, you know, very cautious in putting that alert out and it's good to get people focused on it and talking about it," said Conway.

What can you do to help out? Conway says seal any cracks around your windows and doors and turn on a fan while you turn down the A/C.

A MISO spokesman says temporary, coordinated outages are extremely rare and something they've never had to do in Wisconsin.

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