Utilities Departments All Across the Region Asking For Everyone to Lower Energy Usage

HASTINGS – Utilities departments all across the state and region are asking customers to limit their energy use during the recent cold weather. Nebraska is a part of the Southwest Power Pool which is a regional transmission organization that’s required by the federal government to supply electricity. The Pool is a 14 state organization and abnormally cold temperatures have occurred from North Texas to the Canadian border. Mark Becker, the Media Relations Specialist with the Nebraska Public Power District, says that there has also been less wind as well. 

In the Southwest Power Pool we see usually somewhere between 20 and 40 percent generation come from wind. It’s at 10 percent. Nebraska’s wind farms themselves, for NPPD, were less than one percent. So we were not getting that introduced into the market. Therefore, electric demand is based upon natural gas and natural gas prices skyrocketed as well.  

Becker also said that, as of yesterday, the Southwest Power Pool declared an emergency due to the cold temperatures and not enough energy. They called a level 3 emergency, which is the highest that can be called.

They were not ready to have any kind of, what we call, loadshedding. Which is basically, turn off the power in certain areas. In a matter of about twenty minutes, there was a combination of these that happened. There were some natural gas lines that were frozen. Two large generation resources in the footprint went down. That required us and all other utilities, within the SPP footprint, to take certain areas offline for short periods of time. We have not done it since then. 

They are asking customers to conserve energy in any way possible.

Lower your thermostat. I’d suggest not using your oven tonight, but a microwave. Don’t use the dishwasher, don’t use your washing machine. They take high levels of electricity to operate. Anything consumers can do will help. 

He said the higher temperatures later in the week will help but Oklahoma and Texas have been hit hard and most of the wind turbines there have been frozen. They are hoping for relief on Thursday.

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