U.S. Midwest grid operator asks utilities to stop maintenance

March 4 Tue Mar 4, 2014 7:53am EST

March 4 (Reuters) - The U.S. Midwest power grid operator on Tuesday asked utilities to stop unnecessary maintenance to avoid power shortages, because frigid temperatures were driving up demand and some plants were already shut for forced outages.

The warning means utilities must stop unnecessary power transmission and generation maintenance. It does not mean the grid will run out of electricity for consumers, grid operator Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) told its members in a couple of emails.

These warnings are for energy companies only - not consumers. The MISO has many options before it has to ask consumers to conserve power.

Temperatures were expected to reach a high of 24 degrees F on Tuesday in Chicago, the biggest city in the Midwest. The normal high at this time of year is 42 degrees.

MISO, the second biggest power grid in the United States, operates the power grid in 15 U.S. Midwest and Gulf Coast states and the Canadian province of Manitoba.

The biggest power companies in MISO include units of Duke Energy Corp, Xcel Energy Inc, Entergy Corp , Ameren Corp, Berkshire Hathaway's MidAmerican Energy and DTE Energy Co.

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