Midwest and New England Are Threatened
To head off potential problems, states in the Midwest and New England are reacting now to impending plant shutdowns, which are threatening to cause serious electric supply shortfalls this summer.
The Midwest. The shutdown of Wisconsin's two nuclear plants, Kewaunee and Point Beach, is predicted to cause the state's worst power shortage. In addition, up to five coal-fired plants were scheduled for maintenance shutdowns. To deal with the anticipated shortage, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission on April 22 adopted an emergency plan.
The PSC said broad emergency powers allow it to change rates on an emergency basis and to implement curtailment plans. Wisconsin PSC Chair Cheryl L. Parrino said the PSC must act now to reduce future impacts. "I do not want to sound like Chicken Little but I also do not want to get caught napping," Parrino said.
The PSC directed its staff to develop a plan to address electric system reliability that will involve customers. Staff sent letters directing utilities to update their files to locate critical-needs customers. It asked utilities to use the media to keep customers informed and to develop a list of resources that customers can contact for information. The PSC said it would accept flexible tariffs to enable power transfers between customers. The PSC is considering a streamlined procedure to approve power interruptions in exchange for lower electric rates.