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Utility official expects energy crunch to continue for years, with possible rolling blackouts

(The Center Square) – Expect the prospect of energy shortages in Illinois and warnings of rolling blackouts to continue beyond just this summer.

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator, or MISO, continues to have declarations for the entire multi-state energy grid including a hot weather alert and a capacity advisory. High heat and high energy demand has the grid oversight organization closely monitoring capacity as the state looks to shut down coal fired power plants by 2045, though some are closing much sooner.

Doug Brown, an engineer with Springfield’s city-owned City Water Light and Power, continues to warn of the potential of power supply issues. And he said it’s not just Springfield, it’s the entire grid, which also services Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and North Dakota, most of Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana and South Dakota, and parts of Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana and Texas.

And, it’s not just this year. It may get more acute in the years ahead.

“No one anticipated that all those [coal] plants … would shut down so fast, if they do, that’s going to jeopardize things, right, as we move forward in the next few years,” Brown said. “This isn’t something that’s going away next year. It’s going to be around for maybe five, seven years. We don’t know.”

He confirmed that Illinois state government operations won’t be part of the rolling blackouts.

“A substation that they have that we serve a majority of the capitol complex and the associated buildings with, they’re not a part of that rolling blackout,” Brown said.

Larger hospitals also will have some exemptions from possible rolling blackouts. But Brown said other operations need to plan ahead.

“Everybody else has got to plan, and that’s the reason we started coming out with this so that everyone is aware of what’s going on, that this is a regional event,” Brown said.

Ameren Illinois said inflation, the war in Ukraine, increased consumption, and the closure of coal-fired electric generation facilities have caused a shortage in energy availability. That will increase utility bills.

“The typical Ameren Illinois residential customer will see a $626 annual increase on the power supply side of the bill, or an average of $52 or more per month throughout the year,” the utility said on its website.


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