Oklahomans urged to conserve power as state drops below energy emergency status
Oklahoma dropped from energy emergency status Friday as temperatures warmed up to just above the freezing level.
The Southwest Power Pool (SPP), power grid operator for a region covering 14 states in the central U.S., previously dropped the emergency alert earlier Thursday, noting voluntary efforts to conserve energy were helping prevent the rolling blackouts that hit the region on Tuesday. But when temperatures again dropped to single digits, the status went back to emergency level until Friday morning.
While demand on the system is still high and natural gas supply is limited, there is still potential for the reinstatement of short-term service interruptions.
Among efforts to prevent blackouts, much of the downtown Oklahoma City skyline went dark and the city turned off lighting at its properties including the iconic Skydance Bridge over Interstate 40.
“We appreciate the voluntary conservation efforts of our customers and the many others in the region beyond our service area,” said David Kimmel, OG&E spokesperson. “Things are improving, and it’s important that we stay diligent until natural gas supplies stabilize.”
As freezing temperatures linger, OG&E is also keeping extra resources on its system to address any issues and potential weather-related outages as snow melts. The company is encouraging customers to stay prepared and continue conserving energy as much as they are safely able to do so.
"We’re asking all customers — commercial, industrial and residential — across the state, and the entire mid-continent, to pitch in and help us get through this difficult time by continuing to conserve energy in the best way that they can,” Kimmel said.
The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) announced Thursday it will remain in a period of conservative operations until 10 p.m. Saturday.
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While grid conditions have improved, the power pool anticipates load and generation fluctuation over the next 48 hours, and conditions could change rapidly. In periods of conservative operations, the operator reported Wednesday it may use longer-term unit commitment notifications, including making commitments prior to day-ahead and/or committing resources that are in reliability status.
This was the first week in SPP’s history that it has declared Energy Emergency Alert Levels 2 or 3 for its entire region. It was also the first time the grid operator has had to direct member utilities to implement controlled, temporary service interruptions to prevent widespread blackouts.
Planned blackouts in the Oklahoma City metro area generally lasted up to two hours.
Texas, which is isolated in its own power grid, has been hit far harder with outages, leaving millions without power for days and resulting in shutdowns at water plants. More than 100 Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) employees and contractors were dispatched Friday to Texas to assist sister company AEP Texas restore electricity to customers impacted by the ongoing power emergency.
“SPP thanks its members, neighboring systems and the millions of people in our region for their response to this historic event,” said Barbara Sugg, SPP president and chief executive officer. “This has been a case study in everyone doing their part on behalf of the greater good. We take our responsibility to keep the lights on very seriously and appreciate the trust placed in us to do so.”