“Energy emergencies” could affect Iowa and other states this winter

Iowans and other Midwesterners face “energy emergencies” this winter amid power plant shutdowns, possible natural gas and coal shortages and railroad disruptions, a national utility group has warned.

North American Electric Reliability Corp., a Georgia-based regulator known as NERC, said the Iowa electric grid operator’s winter power reserves are 5% down from last winter due to nuclear and coal plant shutdowns totaling 4.2 gigawatts. According to a much-cited measure, 1 gigawatt is enough to supply 750,000 households with electricity.

Midcontinent Independent System Operator, known as MISO, is the network operator in Iowa and 14 other states. The report states that MISO “is at risk for energy emergencies during the upcoming winter,” NERC reported this week. “An extreme cold weather event extending deep into the MISO area could result in high generator failures due to insufficient weathering in southern units and the unavailability of fuel for natural gas-fired generators.”