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Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


Customers can help with power reliability during extreme heat

August 24, 2023 | Grant Schulte | reliability, severe weather, weather
Conserving energy can help promote power reliability

OPPD’s service territory continued to face extreme heat on Thursday that could linger through Friday, and there are ways that customers can help promote reliable service.

The utility is following the situation closely and has taken steps to protect the electric grid and to respond quickly if the situation changes. OPPD has not issued a request for customers to conserve, but customers who do reduce their consumption can help bolster power reliability for everyone.

For instance, if 10,000 customers raised the temperature on their thermostats by 3 degrees, the reduction in OPPD’s demand would be roughly equivalent to powering 10 grocery stores or 1,000 homes.

The National Weather Service says heat indices locally could reach as high as 115 degrees today, with temperatures again hitting 100 degrees or higher. Although temperatures on Friday are expected to be in the low to mid-90s, heat indices could be at 100 degrees or more again tomorrow.

OPPD’s regional transmission organization, the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), issued a Conservative Operations Advisory on Monday and has extended it until Friday evening. SPP issues a Conserve Operations Advisory when it sees a need to operate its system conservatively, based on weather or other factors. The advisory does not call for the public to conserve energy.

Steps you can take

However, during extreme weather situations, conserving energy can help to ensure power reliability and may let customers save money on their power bills.

Some steps to consider:

  • Adjust thermostats up a few degrees if using an air conditioner.
  • Use dampers on ductwork to balance airflow throughout your home if one room is colder or warmer than another. Closing registers should be a last resort of dampers are not available.
  • Seal external doors and windows with weather stripping and close shades during the day.
  • Avoid washing and drying clothes or running dishwashers in the hottest parts of the day.
  • Avoid “phantom” power losses by switching computers and monitors to sleep mode when not in use, or shutting them off entirely. Unplug electronics when not in use. Use a central power strip that can turn off multiple devices at once.

Due to the added importance of electricity during extreme weather, OPPD holds over an extra team called the “heat crew” any time the local heat index rises to 95 degrees or higher.

The team acts as support beyond normal working hours, helping a crew that is already assigned to the shift. OPPD adds staff to its store room to ensure crews get what they need swiftly to make repairs.

The heat causes extra wear on OPPD’s equipment, which is why the utility conducts regular maintenance to help prevent failures. During hot weather, crews postpone jobs that involve shifting electric loads to avoid overworking the system more than necessary.

Hottest stretch since 2012

The heat wave that settled over the OPPD service territory this week is the hottest stretch in the area since 2012, when temperatures were 100 degrees or higher from July 22 to July 25, said Becky Kern, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Valley.

Temperatures haven’t been as high this year, but humidity has been “atrocious,” Kern said. On Monday, the heat index reached 121 degrees. The humidity has made for tropical conditions and is a big reason temperatures have only reached 100 degrees two out of the five days this week.

An excessive heat watch has been in effect for the area since Monday. The heat wave is expected to end Saturday when a cold front moves in.

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About Grant Schulte

Grant Schulte joined OPPD as a content generalist in 2022. He is a former reporter for The Associated Press, where he covered the Nebraska Legislature, state politics and other news for a global audience. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa and a proud Hawkeye. In his free time he enjoys running, reading, spending time with his wife, and all things aviation.

View all posts by Grant Schulte >

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