International Transmission Company, Midwest ISO Lead Effort to Ensure Electrical System Reliability During Summer Peak Electric Usage Season

Jun 15, 2004

International Transmission Company, Midwest ISO Lead Effort to Ensure Electrical System Reliability During Summer Peak Electric Usage Season

System restoration meeting examines interconnections; establishes communications protocols to avert repeat of '03 blackout

Novi, MI, June 15, 2004 - On Thursday, June 10, International Transmission Company hosted a gathering of major Midwestern electrical utility companies and reliability authorities to identify critical interconnection points and develop enhanced communications protocols as part of an ongoing effort to maximize their preparedness in the event of instability in the grid or cascading outages.

The Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc. (Midwest ISO) convened the voluntary meeting as part of its planning process for emergency response and system restoration.

"This type of meeting is exactly what is needed to ensure the reliable delivery of electric power during the summer months when the electrical system is under enormous pressure," said Joseph Welch, International Transmission president and CEO. "Our involvement directly relates to International Transmission's goal of improving system infrastructure. Today this means operational planning to manage the existing transmission system under a number of contingencies."

Transmission operators who manage power flows on the grid on a continuous basis are on the front lines for dealing with any sudden, unexpected instability and are trained to take action to prevent widespread outages. Unexpected grid emergencies - such as those caused by storms, natural disasters, or system overload - require special action by operators to avoid cascading outages, system collapse and blackouts. Planning and maximum preparedness enable operators to respond quickly, and in a coordinated fashion to these events.

Recommendations to improve cross-communications were emphasized within the U.S.-Canada Power System Outage Task Force Final Report on the August 14, 2003 Blackout, which identified communication lapses as a contributing factor to the blackout. Last week's meeting demonstrates the commitment of the participating companies to ensure reliable electric service during the summer peak season. Companies participating with Midwest ISO included International Transmission Company, American Electric Power (Ohio), Michigan Electric Transmission Company, FirstEnergy (Ohio), DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, Dayton Power and Light (Ohio), Michigan Electric Power Coordination Center (MEPCC), and the Independent Electricity Market Operator (Ontario).

The group examined ways to restore the electrical system from a wide area perspective, reviewed emergency and system restoration plans, and conducted a tabletop drill. Midwest ISO has schedule additional drill planning activities in July and August. In the fall, Midwest ISO will conduct a full-scale drill over its entire footprint to ensure that emergency procedures and communications are working optimally.

"Midwest ISO works with our members and their neighbors to develop plans and procedures that would be implemented should the grid become overloaded and at risk. Communications are facilitated by cooperative meetings and solid preparations for various contingencies," said Bill Phillips, Midwest ISO's Vice President of Operations.

Midwest ISO has divided its territory into sub regions to facilitate communications among neighboring utilities. Transmission system operators are the primary contacts in each sub region for operations and planning under emergency conditions. International Transmission is serving as the lead for the Michigan-northern Ohio-Ontario sub region for meetings this year.

These meetings establish direct lines of communication among utilities, especially across seams in the grid. Drills are one of the ways operators interact with one another and review the actions that would be taken under stressful conditions whenever system emergencies occur.

"Our planning process for emergency response directly involves system operators. This is a foundation for training," said Phillips.

"We applaud MISO's initiative as the reliability coordinator for Michigan and Ohio as well as International Transmission's leadership in addressing the reliability in the region. We are delighted at their proactive stance," said Steve Cooper, Senior Engineer and Technical Officer of Emergency Preparedness, Market Operators and Forecasts, Independent Electricity Market Operator, Ontario. "Neighbors need to talk to neighbors, and this was a great neighborhood gathering."

Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the Midwest ISO as the nation's first Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) on December 20, 2001. Midwest ISO, in its role as a regional transmission organization, monitors electric reliability throughout much of the Midwest - an area that encompasses more than 96,000 miles of interconnected high voltage transmission lines in all or parts of 15 states and one Canadian province. Midwest ISO is responsible for coordinating the operation of the wholesale electric transmission system and ensuring fair access to the grid.

International Transmission Co.
Lisa Roseland

Franco Public Relations Group
Marc Harlow

Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc.
Gary Rasp