Extreme temperatures across the nation are prompting power companies to take precautions, including asking residents to reduce their power consumption.
On Tuesday, Feb. 16 Southwest Power Pool (SPP) declared an Energy Emergency Alert Level 3 effective immediately for its entire 14-state balancing authority area. Mountrail-Williams Electric Cooperative is a part of SPP.
“The unprecedented cold snap and snow throughout the central United States is affecting our power grid,” MWEC PR and Communications Coordinator Jessica George told the Williston Herald. “With SPP there are 14 states involved in that, and we pool our power sources together. Because of the cold temperatures that the southern parts are seeing, they are increasing their usage.”
As a result, MWEC has been asked by SPP to encourage reduced energy consumption in its members and be prepared to shed load in its service territory. George said MWEC has reduced power consumption within its local facilities, and have asked their industrial and commercial members to reduce their usage as well, and/or use a generator if possible.
“As of right now, we don’t have any residential turned off.” George added. “Residential is a last resort, especially because of where our temperatures are.”
George added that the situation may change depending on SPP requirements. She stated that if power outages were necessary, MWEC would give as much notice as possible to any effected residents. George specified that MWEC would not turn power off for more than an hour, and that they were hoping for 45 minutes, if required. George emphasized again that rolling outages were not planned for the area at this time.
George urged residents to be good neighbors and share the information with any neighbors that may not have social media or internet access. MWEC will post updates regularly on their website and Facebook regarding the emergency declaration, she explained.
“The reason we are continually posting information isn’t to scare anybody or tell it’s going to happen, we’re just trying to give them as much information as possible that it could happen.” George said. “We want our members to be as prepared as possible.”
Steps to lower electricity usage:
Turn your thermostat to 68 degrees to reduce electric heat demand
Avoid using large appliances like clothes washers, clothes dryers, and ovens
Turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances
Montana-Dakota Utilities released the following statement regarding the emergency situation:
“Montana-Dakota Utilities is a member of the MISO transmission grid and energy market. MISO does not expect to implement load reductions today, and Montana-Dakota Utilities does not expect any power interruptions today. The region’s other transmission/energy group, Southwest Power Pool, is curtailing load again today. Montana-Dakota Utilities does not receive energy from SPP and therefore is not impacted.”