At approximately 10:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, SPP, the regulatory agency for the regional electric grid, suspended its load shed order and all controlled power interruptions were restored. At 1 p.m., SPP lowered the Energy Emergency Alert to Level 2, which calls for continued energy conservation but no imminent power interruptions. Victory Electric would like to say THANK YOU to our members for your energy conservation efforts, but we are still issuing public appeals for electric consumers to reduce all unnecessary energy use over the next few days. If we can keep the system electric demand within generation capacity limits, we can hopefully avoid any further controlled power interruptions.
We encourage members to take proactive steps and be prepared for any power interruptions. We understand this is not an ideal situation and has a direct impact on our consumers, but please know Victory Electric will continue to work and do everything in our power to keep our members up-to-date.
Extreme cold weather and natural gas supply issues have created energy deficiencies in the Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) region, leading the SPP to declare formal alerts associated with low generating capacity for the entire SPP footprint.
When the electric grid conditions tighten due to the persistent and extreme cold weather, which led to electric use in SPP’s 14-state region to exceed available generation capacity. SPP directed its utilities to implement controlled interruptions of service. Controlled service interruptions are a last resort, and a step that is only taken when necessary to safeguard the continued reliability of the regional grid.
The SPP is the regional transmission organization that oversees the electric grid and the dispatching of electric generation sources based on system constraints and availability. SPP works with generation and transmission utilities across 14 states like Victory Electric’s wholesale power supplier, Sunflower Electric, to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure and competitive wholesale electricity prices.
A responsibility of SPP is to declare and communicate the existence of any emergencies related to capacity and/or energy emergencies within the SPP area as necessary to manage, alleviate or end an energy emergency. This is done by issuing formal alerts based on SPP Energy Emergency Alert Level system.
- Energy Emergency Alert Level 1 (EEA1) - signals that SPP foresees or is experiencing conditions where all available resources are committed to meet firm load obligations and that we may be unable to sustain its required contingency reserves.
- Energy Emergency Alert Level 2 (EEA2) - An EEA2 signals that SPP is no longer capable of providing its expected energy requirements and is now energy deficient. EEA2 requires the public appeal for energy conservation efforts. ** This request for energy conservation will remain in effect until further notice to mitigate the risk of more widespread and longer-lasting outages.
- Energy Emergency Alert Level 3 (EEA3) - An EEA3 is triggered if SPP has to utilize operating reserves below the required minimum and controlled service interruptions (rolling blackouts) are implemented.
- Because controlled power interruptions are not coordinated at the distribution level, Victory Electric cannot predict exactly where and when each controlled interruption will happen, but we do know members should prepare for and expect interruptions to last anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Why is this happening and what caused the issuance of an energy emergency?
High market prices and the declaration of energy emergency alerts are due to a number of factors resulting from widespread, long-lasting and extreme cold weather. These factors include, but are not limited to, high electricity use across the entire SPP system, inadequate supply and high prices of natural gas, and low supply of wind generation and wind-forecast uncertainty.
Fuel to run generation plants are having trouble getting gas because it is either not available or natural gas supply lines are freezing up. Northern Natural Gas (NNG) issued a force majeure due to lack of gas supply to their receipt points. As of Monday morning, Sunflower Electric reports Holcomb Stations (S2, S4, S5), Rubart Station, Clifton, Fort Dodge, and Garden City units (S2,4 and 5) are online and operating. But it is possible the supply to some generating stations may deplete if NNG curtails supply. This isn’t because gas wasn’t procured properly, there is just no actual gas coming in from the field.
When conditions exist that could lead to an energy deficiency, SPP coordinates with its load-serving utilities to issue a public appeal for energy conservation. The goal of this action is to reduce the overall system load and keep it below region-wide total generating capacity.
When a region becomes energy deficient, as it did Monday morning, the SPP declares an EEA3 and directs utilities to curtail energy use to bring load back within generating capacity limits. Utilities will responsibly implement temporary interruptions of service (rolling blackouts) to prevent worsening system conditions that could impact a broader area or have longer-lasting effects.
How can I help conserve energy?
Simple, effective ways for end-use consumers to meaningfully conserve energy include adjusting thermostats to cooler temperatures; scheduling appliances like dishwashers and washing machines to run during off-peak times or delaying cycles altogether; and keeping doors, windows and blinds shut to retain heat in their houses. Other energy efficiency steps include:
- Postpone using major electric appliances such as stoves, dishwashers, and clothes dryers until the energy emergency is over.
- Turn off non-essential electric appliances and equipment (radios, coffee pots, media centers, etc.).
- Turn off power strips if not in use.
- Actively turn off computers and monitors not in use (The "sleep" mode is good, but the "off" mode is better.). If possible, use your laptop computer as it uses much less electricity than your desktop computer.
- Turn off lights wherever possible (don’t forget outside and decorative lighting).
- Adjust your thermostat. Reduce unnecessary use of all air conditioning/heating units.
- If you have an electric range, plan meals that require a minimum of cooking.
- Open shades and blinds during the day and close shades and blinds at night to save energy.
- Rock your winter wardrobe indoors.
- Avoid using your exhaust fans.
- If you have a fireplace, keep the damper closed when it is not in use.