Campus Response to the Possibility of Controlled Electrical Grid Outages This Summer
June 14, 2022 2:17 PM

In April, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) announced that projected electric capacity shortfalls in the organization’s north and central regions this summer might leave those areas at increased risk of temporary, controlled outages. While Abbott Power Plant generates approximately half of the campus’ electricity through an efficient cogeneration process, the university typically acquires the rest from Ameren as a market participant in MISO.

Because of the possibility of planned blackouts or brownouts occurring on the regional electrical grid that supplies the campus, Facilities & Services (F&S) is updating operational strategies designed to meet the university’s energy needs should those situations arise. These methods will include the following:

  • Implementing new, aggressive energy conservation procedures at the facility level
  • Increasing on-site energy production capacity at Abbott Power Plant
  • Maximizing use of the campus Thermal Energy Storage tank and load-shifting processes
  • Incorporating renewables when consistent output exists
  • Optimizing building digital controls systems
  • Performing urgent contingency planning as necessary

As part of this comprehensive effort, F&S staff will coordinate with representatives from colleges, departments, units, and institutes to identify specific building solutions and discuss utilities production and distribution service adjustments that strive to drastically reduce energy demand during projected peak periods and help maintain campus energy reliability. Taking further steps to conserve energy will be especially important with warmer-than-typical temperatures forecasted for the Midwest over the next several months, beginning with heat warnings this week. MISO has also indicated longer-term concerns about potential recurring capacity shortfalls of this variety.

Providing safe, reliable, and environmentally responsible energy service without interruption is critical to supporting teaching and research activities and protecting the well-being of all individuals on campus. The university will continue proactively shaping its energy future through your support while adapting to these transmission challenges and market conditions.

For more information or questions about ongoing preparations, contact Director of Utilities & Energy Services Rob Roman, 217-300-5810.


Ehab Kamarah
Interim Executive Director, Facilities & Services


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