Oahe Electric urges customers to reduce electricity use
SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) – This morning, the Oahe Electric Co-op in Blunt took to its Facebook page to warn customers of potential power outages and asked them to limit as much power as possible to avoid an outage total.
“Right now, that’s kind of an expectation in our area,” said Jordan Lamb, chief executive of Oahe Electric. “A lot of issues affect a fairly large area, a 14-state area, from Montana, North Dakota, down to Texas and Arkansas. The big problem is that right now there is too much load in this area compared to the production currently available to supply the whole area.
Lamb said they are currently going through power outages, which usually last about an hour, rather than having a full outage.
“One thing about it is that it affects everyone in our area, not just a co-op or an own utility investor or a municipality, it affects everyone. So we’re trying to put out as much material on our Facebook page, as well as do what we can here,” Lamb said.
Lamb had the lights turned off in his office. The co-op encourages people to turn down their thermostats, try to avoid unnecessary activities that are high-demand consumer activities, like laundry, washing dishes, long hot showers, and unnecessary industrial processes that can wait like the drying of grain silos, to allow people to be able to maintain heating in their homes.
Lamb said he was also working with the local radio station to deliver information.
Oahe Electric serves Hughes and Sully counties, rural areas around the town of Pierre. They have about 3,100 meters, some customers have multiple meters and some have just one, Lamb said. They also transmit electricity to a municipality in their service territory.
A big concern for the co-op right now is people who have all the electric heat, Lamb said. Oahe strives to get information to try to change when they use this heat.
“The most important thing right now with the generation deficit, the total load is that you can change when that energy needs to be used, you can, rather than using the electricity for intervals of high demand, let’s say a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening, we try to encourage our members to change that to mid-afternoon or late evening and throughout the night rather than during the day,” Lamb said. .
Lamb said that whoever has shop heaters or something, the co-op tries to shift that use to off-peak demand times to avoid spikes in power consumption.
Oahe Electric doesn’t know when to expect an outage if that were to happen, Lamb said.
The balancing authority for the zone is Southwest Power Pool (SPP). The SPP is currently reviewing the network frequency for the entire Midwest and trying to prevent an instability event, Lamb said.
“In the event that they start to hit a tipping point on a curve, we get a limited warning and the circuit breaker is open and the load is gone,” Lamb said. “Fortunately, at this stage, it’s just continuous outages, rather than a full outage scenario. If we don’t act and have a full outage scenario, it could take hours at a time. days to come back from a black boot event, where you lose your entire grid and the whole Midwest would be down, so right now we’re just trying to save what we’ve got and keep everyone on fire.
This window they’re talking about could potentially last until Thursday, Lamb said. They are waiting for more information from SPP.