Rolling Blackouts Impacting 14-State Area Among Southwest Power Pool; Emergency Level Remains At Two Wednesday

LINCOLN – Moving into the second day of possible rolling blackouts on Tuesday, Nebraska Public Power Department officials gave updates on the status of the electric grid.

Wednesday mid-morning UPDATE: There had been anticipation that the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) would go to Level 3 at 9 a.m. NPPD has been able to avoid service interruptions this morning but things may change quickly. SPP is currently remaining at a level 2.

Wednesday morning UPDATE: now in day three, the Nebraska Public Power District has moved to Emergency Level 3 at 9 a.m. Rolling blackouts will be conducted throughout the NPPD service territory with power being out for 45 minutes or longer in various locations until further notice.

Tom Kent, CEO and President of NPPD led the briefing and talked about the unprecedented event affecting the Southwest Power Pool.

The cold weather event that is moving east across the United States has created a high-level demand for electricity and impacted fuel supply for generation plants.

Kent also said the wind was lower than it is normally.

“The operators in SPP saw this coming,” said Kent. “They saw that the wind forecasts were going to be less, they saw the issues coming with regards to natural gas supply and they started implementing their emergency plans last week.”

NPPD also made sure to work with their customers to not interrupt critical loads.

“Nebraska Public Power District sells most of our power at wholesale to other utilities,” Kent added. “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.”

When there are issues in the eastern energy connect, all of the utilities can be impacted by that. The eastern energy connect is the largest interconnection machine on the planet.

The interconnect operates a balancing area spanning the 14 states from North Dakota down to Texas and is responsible for balancing the demand of customers with the generation on a real time basis.

“We don’t have a way to store large amounts of energy,” Kent mentioned. “So, for the 100+ years the electric utility industry has been in place, we maintain reliability by people in control centers working everyday to maintain that balance between load and generation.”

NPPD would like to thank all of their customers and the public for their perseverance and understanding as the issues is worked out. If you can, do your part in how you manage natural gas and electricity for the next few days.