SPP Officials Say Okla. Remains At Emergency Level 1; Heading Toward The Clear

Thursday, February 18th 2021, 6:26 am
By: Jordan Dafnis

Throughout the past couple of days, energy consumption has been a major concern and at one point hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans lost power.

As of Thursday morning, we are down to a Level 1 emergency level.

It’s still freezing cold and The Southwest Power Pool says we are not in the clear yet. They are still asking everyone to continue to conserve energy.

During a press conference Wednesday, Southwest Power Pool officials talked about why this energy emergency occurred.

According to the Southwest Power Pool in the summer, energy usage peaks are actually a little higher than they are in the winter. Even on Tuesday when energy use hit its highest levels of this winter storm, SPP says that was still less than peak usage in the summer.

But even so, companies could not keep up with the energy demands.

Lanny Nickell, Executive President for Southwest Power Pool says part of the reason for that is because many people are using natural gas.

"The supply of gas is very constrained when these conditions collide and that is what happened. We needed gas to run generation we also needed gas for our local consumers for heating purposes and that is what we saw in the winter that we don’t see in the summer,” says Nickell.

Several other factors also played a role.

“Generation not being as available as it had been on Monday and then imports that we were blessed to rely upon on Monday were not as available as they were on Tuesday. And so we ended up having to disrupt around 6.5 % of our load on Tuesday,” says Nickell.

Southwest Power Pool officials say the rolling power outages were necessary in order to prevent more widespread detrimental disruption.

“ If we don't, the system will begin to automatically correct that for us. And when that happens, cascading outages occur when a generator trips offline because it must do that to prevent further damage that will have an impact on other generators in the system, says Nickell. " As those generators begin to trip in an uncontrolled fashion, the load can no longer be served and we have nothing we can do about it at that point. When that begins to happen, it happens in milliseconds, and manual operators we just can’t intervene manually."

They say their goal was to have as little impact as possible.

"Everything we have done has been done to protect against far more extreme events from occurring that impact many more consumers and impact them in a much deeper more impactful, longer-lasting way," says Nickell.

The Southwest Power Pool describes itself as a reliability coordinator over the companies that they oversee.

During the meeting, they said the companies they oversee share resources and there are consequences for companies that do not comply with their recommendations. 

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