Electric Reliability

The power grid is changing. Traditional power plants (for example, nuclear and coal) are being replaced mainly by renewable energy, and as a nation we're increasing our reliance on electricity. This change in of itself is not bad, but it has resulted in a problem with electric reliability.

Traditional power plants are being closed without adequate replacement from renewables, and there may not be enough supply to meet demand. The J.H. Campbell coal plant, for example, is closing 15 years ahead of schedule and is responsible for about 1,500 megawatts. Our customers use 150 megawatts at peak times during summer. To put this in perspective, we have around 40,000 customers. Without needed supply, we face the potential for rolling blackouts.  

Renewables are a great addition to the nation's fuel mix, and a great solution to ensure generations to come don't have to rely on finite resources for electricity. MEC's current portfolio is 63% carbon-free, and we've been trending toward cleaner resources for the past 20 years. However, we are tearing down the house before we've built a new one, and the nation's ability to keep the lights on is at risk.

If we have to implement blackouts, they will last for no more than two hours. They will not impact all customers at once and some might not even experience blackouts at all. Scroll down to learn more.

Navigating a momentous shift in energy policy

The state of Michigan has passed the Clean Energy and Jobs Act, one of the most comprehensive and ambitious state climate plans in the country. Key takeaways include:

  • By 2040, Michigan will produce 100% of its energy from renewable sources.
  • Energy produced by Palisades Nuclear Power Plant will count toward both renewable and clean energy targets, which means MEC and our power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative, are well positioned to meet that standard.
  • State regulators will have authority over renewable energy permits.
  • A "community and worker economic transition office" will be established to address job losses for people working with fossil fuels and internal combustion engines.

For more information, read MEC CEO Bob's February 2024 Country Lines column.

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Recent Coverage

While Michigan is unique in its approach to clean energy, the concern of electric reliability is a national one, and some regions have already experienced blackouts. Find recent coverage below.

How do Rolling Blackouts work?

There will only be blackouts if the regional grid is taxed to the point where a blackout is needed to protect the larger grid. Blackouts will be determined by our grid operators, not us, and will impact multiple utilities.

The electric grid is a complicated and connected system with many players. One such player is a grid operator, which is an independent, third-party entity that ensures the system works efficiently and reliably. We have two operators: PJM Interconnection and MISO. If they determine there's not enough electricity to meet demand, they will call for blackouts to protect the larger grid, not just MEC’s equipment, from permanent damage.

As stated above, rolling blackouts will typically last for no more than two hours. They will not impact all customers at once and some might not even experience blackouts at all.

In order to avoid a blackout, we may email you and ask you to turn down your power. However, there may be times when the grid is taxed to the point where we don't have enough time. 

Your electric consumption

If we  ask you to reduce your electric usage, it's because we've been asked to by our regional grid operator. This is what some power companies did on Christmas Eve 2022.

Here are some ways to reduce power if you receive a communication from us. 

In summer:

  • Raise your thermostat four degrees.
  • Avoid doing laundry, showering, and running your dishwasher during high-demand hours.
  • Turn off lights and fans in empty rooms.
  • Avoid using your oven, which could heat up your home and cause your A/C to work harder.
  • Have your A/C unit inspected by a professional to ensure it’s running as efficiently as possible, and change the filter once per month.

In winter:

  • Lower your thermostat 10 degrees.
  • Find and seal air leaks in your home.
  • Replace your heating system's filter every month and have it inspected by a professional every year.
  • Set your ceiling fan to a low speed with the blades rotating clockwise to push the warm air collected at the ceiling around the room.
  • Open curtains and blinds on sunny days and let the sunshine warm your rooms.
  • Close curtains and blinds at night to prevent heat from escaping.

Another important step is educating our legislators about what's happening so they can advocate for a more balanced approach to grid issues.

Rolling Blackout Resources