Controlled power disruptions could be coming to Sapulpa

UPDATE: OGE&E says The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) has lowered the Energy Emergency Alert Level to Level 2, which means that planned service interruptions will be paused for the time being. There is a potential to return to Level 3 this evening as temperatures again drop. This will likely continue to be the case over the next few days because of the continued cold weather across the region and the demand for natural gas. If the SPP returns to Level 3, which would re-instate the temporary service interruptions, OG&E will update customers at that time.

This morning at 10:08 a.m, the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) declared a Level 3 Energy Emergency Alert (EAA). SPP is an independent nonprofit organization that monitors the electric grid in a 14-state area, to ensure that electricity is safely and reliably delivered to end-users. Extraordinarily low temperatures throughout the SPP region has resulted in the demand for electricity exceeding available generation.

From the SPP press release:

After exhausting usage of available reserve energy, SPP has subsequently directed its member utilities to implement controlled interruptions of service to prevent further, more widespread, and uncontrolled outages.

As a grid operator, this is an unprecedented event and marks the first time SPP has ever had to call for controlled interruptions of service,” said SPP’s executive vice-president and Chief Operating Officer Lanny Nickell. “It’s a last resort that we understand places a burden on member utilities and the customers they serve, but it is a step we are consciously taking to prevent circumstances from getting worse which could result in uncontrolled outages of even greater magnitude.

Individual utilities will determine how best to curtail their use by the required amount based on their own emergency operating plans.”

OG&E is responding by taking the necessary steps to follow the advice of SPP. “SPP has directed us to implement temporary interruptions of service,” said Brian Alford, OG&E spokesperson. “These will be short-term, controlled interruptions and may continue through mid-week.”

Declarations of energy emergency alerts are due to several factors resulting from widespread, long-lasting, and extremely cold weather. These factors include, but are not limited to, high electricity use across the entire SPP system and limited wind power and natural gas availability.

While SPP and its member companies work to restore the regional power grid to full capacity, OG&E is urging its customers to reduce electricity use.

How you can help:

  • Set thermostats lower than usual, if health permits
  • Postpone using major electric appliances such as stoves, dishwashers, and clothes dryers until mid-day or after 9 p.m. when the demand for electricity decreases
  • Turn off electric lights and appliances that you do not need or are not using
  • Businesses should minimize the use of electric lighting and electricity-consuming equipment as much as possible, large consumers of electricity should consider shutting down or reducing non-essential production processes.

“We join SPP, and all the utility companies in Oklahoma and the region in asking customers to help by reducing their electricity use as safely as possible,” Alford said.

PSO, another local electric utility, told a local TV station that around 11,000 customers at a time would be impacted, and the “outage” could last for an hour. The PSO spokesman also said that customers should receive an email or robocall prior to the interruption.

Sapulpa Times reached out to OG&E and corresponded via email with OG&E Vice-President of Communications and Public Affairs, Brain Alford. When asked about advanced warning, Alford said OG&E is given very little time between when asked to initiate service interruptions and when requested load reductions must be met. He stated the duration of the interruptions would be between 1-3 hours.

Customers who are given advance notice should unplug electronic equipment, such as TVs, monitors, PCs, printers, etc, to avoid damage from when service is interrupted.
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Charles Betzler

Charles Betzler

Charles Betzler is a contributing writer for Sapulpa Times.
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