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Willmar Municipal Utilities sets notification plan if electricity shortages occur this summer

Willmar Municipal Utilities sets a plan for notification of electric customers during potential shortages.

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Willmar Municipal Utilities has announced how it will notify customers if there are electricity shortages this summer.
West Central Tribune file photo
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WILLMAR — Due to the potential of electricity shortages throughout the region this summer, Willmar Municipal Utilities has developed a plan of what customers should do in the case of an energy alert or an energy emergency, according to an announcement this week.

Willmar Municipal Utilities may be asked to help with emergency power generation and conservation measures this summer as the Midcontinent Independent System Operator expects energy shortages due to rising heat waves.

Recently, general manager John Harren told the Willmar Municipal Utilities Commission that the Midcontinent Independent System Operator is predicting an electricity shortage across the region and may call on Willmar and other utilities to assist in "keeping the lights on."

MISO manages the power grid for Midwest states, including Minnesota.

In the case of an electricity shortage, rolling blackouts or brownouts could occur. However, those temporary outages may be avoided if everybody does their part to conserve electricity.

If notified by MISO that the potential to conserve electricity exists in the next 24 hours, Willmar Municipal Utilities will notify businesses and residents by posting alerts through the West Central Tribune, the radio, Facebook and its own website at wmu.willmar.mn.us .

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If an electricity shortage occurs, an energy alert or energy emergency will be issued to stabilize the electric grid using the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Alert System, similar to an Amber Alert.

During an energy alert, residents and commercial customers are asked to reduce energy use as much as possible to help avoid outages.

Energy use can be reduced by turning the thermostat up a few degrees, closing drapes or blinds to keep the sun out, shutting off all unnecessary lights and equipment, and delaying using large appliances such as ovens, washing machines, dishwashers, and electric vehicle chargers until later in the evening.

If these and other conservation efforts are not successful, an energy emergency will be issued and Willmar Municipal Utilities will initiate a series of controlled temporary outages, or rolling blackouts, to maintain the stability of the electric grid.

Rolling blackouts may last one to two hours at a time until the energy shortage is alleviated, according to the announcement.

Jennifer Kotila is a reporter for West Central Tribune of Willmar, Minnesota. She focuses on local government, specifically the City of Willmar, and business.

She can be reached via email at: jkotila@wctrib.com or phone at 320-214-4339.
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