By Traci Chapman
A host of utility providers have now announced they plan to shortly begin controlled rolling power blackouts across Oklahoma – including Canadian County.
It is the first time in Oklahoma Gas & Electric’s history the company would be forced to implement temporary service interruptions for customers, a representative said Monday afternoon. The move was forced by an “unprecedented” demand on the power grid due to the extreme cold being experienced in the area and down south to Texas and necessary to “preserve the integrity of our power grid so we can avoid regional blackouts.”
Rolling blackouts were advised by Southwest Power Pool, of which Oklahoma utility providers are members, according to a news release. Southwest declared a third-level “energy emergency alert” just after 10 a.m. today.
Outages for OG&E customers could be an hour long throughout the next few days and could happen up to several times; SPP’s release stated rolling blackouts could run from an hour to two hours each occurrence.
“SPP is directing member utilities to implement controlled interruptions of service effective immediately,” SPP stated in its release and also on Twitter.
CK Electric Cooperative was already experiencing some issues before its announcement of rolling power shortages. The company issued a statement Monday morning crews were working to resolve outages and “blinks” in El Reno and Union City.
CK advised via Twitter Monday afternoon its rolling blackouts had begun, currently in the Burns Flat/Foss areas. Representatives said Monday afternoon they did not know where or when the next outage would take place.
“CKEC’s power supplier Western Farmers is curtailing circuit’s from our substations. This will result in outages as our power supplier sheds load – we are not getting advanced notice on which circuits they are curtailing; when we do get notified, we will publish the outage info here in Facebook,” CK advised in a statement. “Again, this is our power supplier and we do not have control over these load shedding outages or the length of them – we continue to ask members to do what you can to conserve energy.”
Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, which services portions of Canadian County – including Mustang – advised its customers of the rolling blackouts and advised there would be no energy or OEC fiber disconnections this week; it also put the situation in a different context.
“To put this storm in context, keeping a house at 72 degrees when it is -5 degrees outside is equivalent to cooling a house to 72 degrees when it is 149 degrees outside,” the company stated on its website.
Oklahoma energy companies are among SPP’s 95 members also located in New Mexico, Wyoming, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Texas and South Dakota.
Officials are suggesting the following precautions to take to lessen the burden on the power grid:
- Turn off non-essential lights, equipment and appliances;
- Minimize use of electric appliances like dishwashers, washers and dryers and ovens;
- Turn down thermostats to 68 degrees; and
- Businesses minimize use of electric lighting, electric equipment and non-essential production processes.
Following these recommendations could ease the system and make rolling blackouts less frequent and even less likely, officials said.
“Basically, we do have some control over this – each of us – if we work to minimize our electric consumption for a time during these extreme temperatures,” the OG&E representative said. “Basically, this is happening, a level 3 alert means the power supplier can’t meet its customers’ demands, which means member utilities in turn won’t receive enough power to meet our customers’ demand.”
This is a developing story and will be updated as necessary.