Area electric companies call for conservation measures to mitigate power outages

Sierra Rains
The Daily Ardmoreite
A map of the service area of the Southwest Power Pool. The SPP is calling for energy conservation measures across the Midwest following large amounts of snowfall and winter weather.

Area electric companies are straining to keep up with demand amid an extended period of frigid temperatures and winter weather. 

According to the Love County Emergency Management Office, individuals south of the Red River are experiencing frequent rolling blackouts, and some people across Oklahoma have been experiencing outages as the demand for electricity continues to increase. 

As of Monday morning, millions in Texas were without power. Fewer outages were reported in Oklahoma, but hundreds of customers were still being impacted. 

OG&E and companies like the Red River Valley Rural Electric Association, which provides electric services to more than 15,000 meters in South Central Oklahoma, including Carter County, are urging members to conserve electric consumption to prevent further and more wide-spread power outages.

“The electric grid is under a lot of stress with the extreme cold and we want to encourage people to conserve on electric usage so we can avoid any unnecessary power outages during this winter weather,” said KorDale Lornes, Red River Valley REA Marketing Director. 

The demand for electricity is expected to increase over the next few days as more winter weather moves across southern Oklahoma and other areas of the midwest.

The Southwest Power Pool, a power grid operator for a region covering 14 states, including Oklahoma, is also calling for conservation measures to mitigate the risk of more widespread and longer-lasting outages. 

SPP declared an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) Level 1 on Feb. 14 and raised the alert to an EEA Level 3, the highest level of emergency, on Monday morning. An EEA Level 3 signals that SPP’s operating reserves are below the required minimum, and member utilities should be prepared to implement controlled interruptions of service if necessary. 

“Controlled service interruptions are a last resort, and a step we take only when necessary to safeguard continued reliability of the regional grid,” said Lanny Nickell, SPP Executive Vice President, in a Feb. 15 press release. 

As a member company, OG&E customers could be impacted. At around noon on Monday, OG&E reported two planned power outages in Ardmore, affecting 1,822 customers. A total of 20,318 customers were affected by power outages across the state around the same time.

Individuals are asked to conserve electricity, if health permits, by taking a few conservation steps. Officials suggest turning down thermostats to 68 degrees, or setting thermostats one to two degrees lower than normal.

Other electricity conservation options include avoiding the use of major household electric appliances such as ovens, dishwashers and washers and dryers, and turning off non-essential electric appliances such as lights and other electricity-consuming equipment. 

Individuals should also limit the number of times they open or close exterior doors, and those who have the option are encouraged to use alternative heating fuels including wood, propane or natural gas. Large consumers of electricity are asked to consider shutting down or reducing non-essential production processes. 

According to the Red River Valley REA, conserving electricity will help ensure that adequate power supplies remains available during the extreme weather conditions expected over the next couple of days.