How hot is your power grid? Real time maps from the Midwest ISO

Continuing the summer power grid watch theme – lots of Oakland County, MI still is waiting for restoration of service – let’s look at the real time map for watching the greater power grid.

In the Midwest, power coordination between utilities is done through the Midwest ISO, an organization that is responsible for orderly transfer of capacity between generators and transmission lines and for helping plan and predict seasonal and outage-related load changes that require competitors to work together.

Midwest ISO Power Grid Map for June 12 2008

The screen snap below shows the current state of the grid, with a link from that page to the LMP Contour Map live map and underlying dataset. In short, when the color of this map is cool blues and greens, the spot market for power is cheap and there’s plenty to go around; when it starts to heat up orange and red, utilities pay more for that added watt and look for ways to ensure enough supply and shed load.

You’ll notice if you watch this enough times that you get periodic regional fluctuations in power pricing, either reflecting plants that are temporarily offline or temperature differences or other regional changes. It’s not free to move power from place to place, and so even if it’s cheap in western New York State it might not be possible to get those megawatts to Minnesota without unacceptable losses underway.

This is the sort of page I’d love to see as a daily animated map, just like the weather maps, and as the very simple in-home user signal that says “grid power condition orange, wait until later to run the dishwasher”.

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