The Energy Market that Serves You

July 8, 2022

Forty-two million people depend on the Midcontinent Independent System Operator to generate and transmit the right amount of electricity every minute of every day.

The electric grid is a sprawling network of power plants, wind turbines, power lines, substations and technologies owned and operated by different utilities who all strive to achieve the same goal: serve their members and customers with the reliable, affordable electricity they need to power their lives.

Most utilities in the country work with a silent partner — their regional transmission organization (RTO) — on this goal. RTOs came along at the recommendation of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 1999. Their purpose is to promote economic efficiency, reliability and non-discriminatory practices.

Great River Energy, wholesale power supplier to Stearns Electric, is a voluntary member of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), which operates the power grid across 15 U.S. states and the Canadian province of Manitoba. MISO helps the region’s electric providers deliver reliable, affordable energy in three ways:

Think of MISO as the air traffic controller of the region’s grid. Using sophisticated technology, processes and procedures, MISO has a wide-area view and control of the grid that goes beyond any one utility. This helps those utilities maintain reliability on a regional level and prevent emergency operating situations in the future or in real-time. Even though most people have never heard of it, 42 million people depend on MISO to generate and transmit the right amount of electricity every minute of every day.

In decades past, electric cooperatives would generate power and deliver it via power lines to their members. Coordinating the power flows and transactions back then was a manual process requiring many agreements between utilities. Today, all generation production is offered into the MISO market and cooperatives buy back what they need to serve their member-consumers. The MISO energy market helps keep electricity affordable by ensuring the lowest cost generation available is used first to supply member-consumers and minimize flow constraints across the grid. MISO also provides improved price transparency with energy market price changes occurring every five minutes, which can be seen in real time.

MISO takes a broad view of the high-voltage power line system — otherwise known as the transmission system — that serves the region and conducts ongoing planning activities to ensure the system is prepared to meet future needs. It works with the region’s electric utilities to minimize the cost of transmission, generation and the energy on the system. Using advanced modeling and research, MISO helps ensure reliable and efficient electricity transmission in the region and beyond.

Great River Energy works closely with MISO to make sure when they design a plan for the region’s electric system, it will serve cooperative members well in terms of both reliability and affordability.

Visit to learn about MISO.