NEBRASKA – The Southwest Power Pool is still struggling to keep up with energy demand as temperatures continue to be low across the region. Tom Kent, the President and CEO of the Nebraska Public Power District, held a press conference on Tuesday morning to discuss the situation.
The cold weather has caused a high level demand for electricity and it’s also impacted fuel supply for generation plants.
We’ve also, as a part of this weather event, seen a situation where Mother Nature, wind, is lower than it normally is because of the weather event. Now the operators in SPP saw this coming, saw that the wind forecast was going to be less, saw the issues coming with regards to natural gas fuel supply, and they started implementing their emergency plans last week.
The Southwest Power Pool declared a stage 3 emergency and asked utility departments to coordinate rolling blackouts to protect the overall transmission system and maintain balance between generation and load to ensure a wide scale blackout would not happen.
Kent said that the blackouts are not random and go through a decision making process to decide where the blackouts happen.
Trying our best in this process not to interrupt loads that are quote: critical loads. And we have to work with our customers to identify those. Nebraska Public Power District sells most of our power at wholesale to other utilities. So we have to work with those utilities to understand where those critical loads might be connected to their system to hopefully avoid interrupting those loads in this process. Examples of critical loads are things like prisons, 911 centers, police stations, fire stations, hospitals, nursing homes, those kind of things where that continued power is critical.
Utility Departments are still in a tenuous situation since the weather event is moving east and those utility departments are going to deal with the same situation.
Interruptions may occur today and tomorrow, but Kent said he hopes it doesn’t come to that again. Currently, the SPP is in a level 2 emergency.