Utilities in 14 states set to start blackouts amid storm stresses

Feb 16, 2021 Travel News

Utilities in 14 states set to start blackouts amid storm stresses

The Southwest Power Pool has ordered member electric utilities in 14 states to begin controlled cuts to electrical service because demand for electricity in the region, driven up by freezing cold, overwhelms available generation, hampered by the storm.

“This is an unprecedented event and marks the first time that SPP has to call for controlled service interruptions,” Lanny Nickell, chief operating officer of the power pool, said in a statement. “It‘s a last resort that we believe places a burden on our member utilities and the clients they serve, but it‘s a step we are taking consciously to prevent the circumstances from escalating.”

Most outages will last about an hour and cut power to a few thousand customers at a time. They are necessary to limit demand and “preserve the reliability of the regional network,” said Nickell. An outage in Oklahoma that began shortly after noon affected approximately 6,000 customers.

The Power Pool, based in Little Rock, Ark., Manages the power grid that connects utilities throughout Oklahoma and Kansas and parts of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, United ‘Iowa, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska. and New Mexico. Most of this region was affected by the winter storm or by the frigid arctic air mass that pushed the storm south.

The statement said the power pool was forced to start relying on standby power sources at 10:08 a.m. central time on Monday, and it issued a controlled outage order when reserves were depleted hours later. He said he has been steadily stepping up warnings to save energy since February 9.

Each member utility would decide for itself how, where and when to cut off electricity to customers to achieve the necessary reductions, the statement said.

Utilities owned by the main grid operating authority in Texas, which connects to the Southwest Power Pool, have started enforcing overnight rolling outages due to the storm.