Planned outages began in Nebraska due to the extreme cold temperatures.
Omaha Public Power District has confirmed it completed planned outages directed by the Southwest Power Pool (SPP).
OPPD spokesperson Jodi Baker said the outages, which were controlled and coordinated, began in the Omaha metro, beginning in the south metro area. The outages are based on the amount of load to the system and are conducted in a systematic, gridded approach. No area is favored over another.
"We understand this is an inconvenience to you, your families and your businesses. Please know these measures are being taken now in accordance with regulatory agencies and direction from SPP," an OPPD press release said. "Conducting these coordinated outages now will allow us to avoid unplanned and more prolonged outages later."
OPPD said residents may experience planned periodic power outages until the weather normalizes over the next couple of days.
"We know this is inconvenient and difficult. Please know that only in an emergency would we intentionally disconnect power," the press release said.
The SPP, which covers 17 states, reported electricity use had exceeded available generation and an Energy Emergency Alert was declared.
“In our history as a grid operator, this is an unprecedented event and marks the first time SPP has ever had to call for controlled interruptions of service,” said Lanny Nickell, SPP executive vice president and chief operating officer. “It's a last resort that we understand puts a burden on our member utilities and the customers they serve, but it's a step we're consciously taking to precent circumstances from getting worse, which could result in uncontrolled outages of even greater magnitude.”
OPPD has asked customers to conserve energy due to the extremely cold weather over the next few days.
The bitter cold temperatures have increased demand for energy across the Plains region, even south into Texas and Oklahoma. Much as it does in summer, high demand can put additional strain on the system.
“These prolonged, frigid temperatures are increasing demand for energy across our service territory and for our partner utilities,” said Tim Burke, OPPD president and CEO. “As they do every day, OPPD employees are working hard, day and night, behind the scenes to keep power flowing to our customers.”
The SPP asked all member organizations to begin energy conservation measures by 11:59 p.m., Sunday. SPP declared an Energy Emergency Alert as record cold conditions across the region, and is seeking help from its member organizations to balance what is currently peak demand for winter months.
Customers can help by taking steps to reduce our service territory’s peak energy load and help balance supply and demand in the energy market.
• Lower your thermostat a few degrees and dress more warmly or use additional blankets to stay comfortable, instead. You can reduce your energy usage by 1-3% for each degree.
• Close the fireplace damper when not in use to avoid losing heat through the chimney.
• Use dampers on the ductwork to balance the airflow in your home if one room is colder or warmer than another. Closing registers should be a last resort if dampers are not available.
• Do not use a wood-burning fireplace for supplemental heating, as it pulls hot air out of a home through the chimney in order to fuel the fire.
• Seal windows and external doors with weather stripping.
• Avoid washing and drying clothing or running dishwashers during the coldest parts of the day – typically late night and early morning.
• Avoid “phantom” power loss