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Energy news from Omaha Public Power District

The Wire

Energy news from Omaha Public Power District

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Prepare for controlled outages due to extreme cold, high energy demand

February 15, 2021 | Laura King-Homan | public power
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The extreme cold is currently causing a strain on our electric system. Our regional reliability coordinator is directing its utilities in 17 states, including OPPD, to curtail energy usage in order to balance supply and demand.

You may experience planned periodic power outages until the weather normalizes over the next couple of days. We know this is inconvenient and difficult. Please know that only in an emergency would we intentionally disconnect power. For more information and updates, visit stormandoutage.com. Thank you for your support in this time of need.

Many of our larger customers have assisted this effort by curtailing their usage, and many of you have done your part to conserve energy, and this has helped. The frigid temperatures have led to record winter demand in energy across the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) footprint, which stretches from the Canadian border to Texas. The entire region is experiencing these temperatures, and it is straining the system.

The men and women at OPPD have worked around the clock to ensure our generation has been producing power. However, we have been directed by our regional transmission organization, SPP – of which OPPD is a member – to begin shedding load in our service territory. Other member utilities across the Midwest are also receiving this request.

At 12:09 p.m., controlled, coordinated outages began in the Omaha metro, beginning in the south metro area. The outages are based on the amount of load to the system and are conducted in a systematic, gridded approach. No area is favored over another.

We understand this is an inconvenience to you, your families and your businesses. Please know these measures are being taken now in accordance with regulatory agencies and direction from SPP. Conducting these coordinated outages now will allow us to avoid unplanned and more prolonged outages later.

We continue to ask customers to conserve energy and do their part to lessen the demand. Here are some ways our customers can help:

  • Lower your thermostat a few degrees and dress more warmly or use additional blankets to stay comfortable, instead. You can reduce your energy usage by 1-3% for each degree.
  • Close the fireplace damper when not in use to avoid losing heat through the chimney.
  • Use dampers on the ductwork to balance the airflow in your home if one room is colder or warmer than another. Closing registers should be a last resort if dampers are not available.
  • Do not use a wood-burning fireplace for supplemental heating, as it pulls hot air out of a home through the chimney in order to fuel the fire.
  • Seal windows and external doors with weather stripping.
  • Avoid washing and drying clothing or running dishwashers during the coldest parts of the day – typically late night and early morning.
  • Avoid “phantom” power loss:
    • Switch desktop computers and monitors to sleep mode when not in use.
    • Shut computer monitors off when not in use.
    • Do not just turn off electronics like televisions, DVD, Blu-Ray players, or cable boxes when not in use. Unplug them if possible.
    • A central power strip enables you to turn off multiple devices at once.

For more energy conservation information, including guidance on reducing energy for each room in your home, to an energy usage calculator, and other tips, visit oppd.com. There, you will also find a video library to walk you through ways to make your home more energy efficient, step by step.

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About Laura King-Homan

Laura King-Homan is the managing editor of The Wire and a brand journalism strategist at Omaha Public Power District. She has nearly 20 years of print journalism and design experience, including the Omaha World-Herald.

View all posts by Laura King-Homan >

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