Utility answers call for more power

September 2, 2022

By Clay Schuldt, staff writer, New Ulm Journal. Originally published 8-26-22; reprinted with permission.


Extreme heat during two days in July prompted the region’s power grid, Midcontinent Independent System Operator, to request additional power from New Ulm Public Utilities in New Ulm, MN.

During the monthly utility operations report, Public Utilities Commissioner Seth Visser asked about MISO’s request to New Ulm to run two steam turbines during July.

steam generator
One of the steam generators at New Ulm Public Utilities, which takes in water and heats it using natural gas to steam which turns a turbine, creating electricity. Photo courtesy New Ulm Journal.

MISO provides transmission and monitoring of the high-voltage transmission system in the Midwest United States and Manitoba, Canada, and a southern United States region which includes much of Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Visser asked if this was a normal request. Utilities Director Kris Manderfeld said it was not a normal request. Usually, MISO calls for quick-start engines because it takes 16 hours to start the steam turbines. During the hot days in July, MISCO called in advance to have the turbines started because it anticipated high demand for power.

In a typical year, MISO does not make any requests NUPU use the steam turbines, but this year they made two requests.

The generator control panel at New Ulm Public Utilities, which provided extra power to the grid covering much of middle North America twice during July. Photo courtesy New Ulm Journal.

Manderfeld these two requests were the only time NUPU has used the turbines to generate more power for MISO.

Manderfeld said MISO is seeing a capacity shortage, and she believed this is why NUPU’s turbines were needed. The longest request for the turbine was for 24 hours.