Southwest Power Pool Downgrades to EEA Level 3; Rolling Blackouts Possible Across South Plains and Panhandle
As of 6:15 a.m., Tuesday morning (February 16th, 2021) the Southwest Power Pool has had to re-enter Energy Emergency Alert Level 3, which means that rolling blackouts are now possible across the Southwest Power Pool (SPP).
The Southwest Power Pool will be working with the utilities in their service area, including Lubbock Power & Light, Xcel Energy, South Plains Electric Co-op and Lyntegar, to reduce the overall electrical load below 42 gigawatts. Lubbock Power & Light officials say that customers that lose power as part of these outages should only lose power for 15 to 45 minutes at a time.
Lubbock Power & Light officials say that LP&L customers can anticipate controlled rotating outages lasting from 15-45 minutes. These outages will affect customers across the city at various points in time until the alert has been removed by SPP. Customers may experience multiple outages. LP&L says they will provide additional updates as the situation evolves.
“We understand this is difficult for our customers and ask for patience as we follow the requirements outlined by our grid operator to help ensure reliability and stability for the entire region,” said David McCalla, Executive Director for LP&L. “We want to minimize disruption as much as possible. The actions we take now can help prevent the possibility of longer, uncontrolled outages as this weather continues.”
Related: tips for dealing with a power outage
People are being urged across Texas to conserve electricity in the following manner:
- Set thermostats to 68 degrees or lower.
- Suspend use of electrical appliances (dishwashers, washing machines, clothes dryers, vacuum cleaners, etc.)
- Put off tasks at work, if possible, that would demand electricity (power tools, maintenance equipment, etc.).
- Turn off televisions and electronic equipment unless they are necessary to conduct business or to ensure your health and safety.
- Turn off unnecessary lighting, leaving on only enough to move about safely indoors.
The City of Lubbock also said they began taking conservation actions with city-owned building once SPP elevated the emergency declaration on Tuesday morning.
Statement from Xcel Energy:
Persistent deficiencies in natural gas supplies that fuel power plants in the central U.S., including Xcel Energy power plants in Texas and New Mexico, are threatening area utilities’ ability to meet customer demand.
To protect the regional grid and maintain reliability, Xcel Energy, along with area electric co-ops and municipal utilities such as Lubbock Power & Light that purchase electricity from Xcel Energy, have been forced to interrupt power to pre-selected electric circuits for up to one hour at a time until system conditions improve. Interruptions began at 6:45 a.m.
More than one service interruption may be possible. There is no need to report an outage during a controlled outage event. If customers experience a service interruption of more than one hour they should contact 1-800-895-1999 or report the outage at xcelenergy.com or through the Xcel Energy customer app.
“Natural gas production is off because of the extreme cold, and supplies are freezing up in the wellfields, limiting the amount of gas that can be delivered over pipelines to power plants across the region and beyond. This is occurring across multiple states, including all of Texas.” said David Hudson, president, Xcel Energy – New Mexico, Texas.
Statement released by the SPP on February 16, 2021:
SPP declared an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) Level 3 effective at 6:15 on Feb. 16 for our entire 14-state balancing authority area. System-wide generating capacity has dropped below our current load of approximately 42 gigawatts (GW) due to extremely low temperatures and inadequate supplies of natural gas.
"We’ll be working with our member utilities to implement controlled interruptions of electric service throughout our region to curtail 1500 megawatts (MW) of load beginning at 6:46 a.m. This is done as a last resort to preserve the reliability of the electric system as a whole. Individuals in the SPP service territory should take steps to conserve energy use and follow their local utilities’ instructions regarding conservation, local conditions and the potential for outages to their homes and businesses.
We are currently forecasting a morning peak of above 44.6 GW around 9:00 a.m. Central time.
Meanwhile, outside of the Southwest Power Pool, ERCOT remains in EEA Level 3 alert, with rolling blackouts taking place over the past 30 hours across their service area. ERCOT has directed Lyntegar Electric Co-op to disconnect power to a large number of customers in Dawson County.
In a statement posted last night, Lyntegar officials said the forced outages in Dawson County are being done to prevent a catastrophic statewide blackout on the ERCOT grid.
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