How your power company is working to keep your lights on during 2021’s hottest stretch

MADISON, Wis. — Headed into the hottest stretch of 2021, energy providers in South-Central Wisconsin say they’re taking every precaution to meet the increased demand on consumption.  

“People are turning their air conditioning on,” said Madison Gas and Electric Spokesperson Steve Schultz. “You see the usage go up. You see the load go up. MGE, just like any utility in the state, we’re required to have a reserve capacity.” 

Schultz says the reserve capacity is crucial to avoid outages, even when demand is at its highest. Also helping during this surge- the solar farm MG&E opened in Fitchburg this week, which is capable of producing 20 megawatts of electricity.  

“Our system is built for it, we’re here to provide it,” Schultz said. “We’re in perfectly fine shape. We’ve had a little run here now of hot weather, I think it’d be fair to say this week that most people have been running their air conditioning all day. We’re not in any situation where we’re at risk of not having enough.” 

While the July 2019 MG&E substation fire wasn’t due to the high heat, Schultz says in the months following, the team of engineers worked to make sure a similar incident didn’t happen.  

“It was kind of a freak incident if you will. Unfortunately, it caused a little chain reaction and power was out,” he said. “That’s part of the reason why we maintain and work on our equipment to make sure those days don’t happen.” 

Alliant Energy says they also find ways to diversify energy intake during extreme weather events, as to prevent a widespread outage from happening.  

“We have a broad energy mix, and a lot of diverse resources that are involved so we don’t have all of our eggs in one basket,” said Alliant Safety Director Matt Cole. “Especially during these times, during peak demand and high temperature events, that diverse mix really serves us well.” 

“We’re here,” Schultz said. “We’ve got the generation capacity, we’re able to meet the needs of our customers, there’s no need to worry.”