FreeState Electric Cooperative was notified by SPP and Kansas Power Electric Cooperatives that our members should prepare for and expect controlled interruptions in electric services. Unfortunately, because the controlled power interruptions are not coordinated at the distribution level, FreeState cannot predict exactly where and when each controlled interruption will happen, but we do know interruptions are expected to last up to two hours.
The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) elevated the Energy Emergency Alert to a Level 3 (EEA3) as electric grid conditions tighten further due to the persistent and extremely cold weather, which has led to electric use in SPP’s 14-state region to exceed available generation capacity. Electric consumers are asked to conserve energy and the SPP has directed its utilities to implement controlled interruptions of service. Controlled service interruptions are a last resort, and a step that is only taken when necessary to safeguard the continued reliability of the regional grid.
Extreme cold weather and natural gas supply issues have created energy deficiencies in the Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) region, leading the SPP to declare formal alerts associated with low generating capacity for the entire SPP footprint throughout the next week.
The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) is the regional transmission organization that oversees the electric grid and the dispatching of electric generation sources based on system constraints and availability. SPP works with generation and transmission utilities across 14 states like FreeState’s wholesale power supplier, KEPCo and Evergy, to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure and competitive wholesale electricity prices.
A responsibility of SPP is to declare and communicate the existence of any emergencies related to capacity and/or energy emergencies within the SPP area as necessary to manage, alleviate or end an energy emergency. This is done by issuing formal alerts based on SPP Energy Emergency Alert Level system.
- Energy Emergency Alert Level 1 (EEA1) - signals that SPP foresees or is experiencing conditions where all available resources are committed to meet firm load obligations and that we may be unable to sustain its required contingency reserves.
- Energy Emergency Alert Level 2 (EEA2) - An EEA2 signals that SPP is no longer capable of providing its expected energy requirements and is now energy deficient. EEA2 requires the public appeal for energy conservation efforts. ** This request for energy conservation will remain in effect until further notice to mitigate the risk of more widespread and longer-lasting outages.
- Energy Emergency Alert Level 3 (EEA3) - An EEA3 is triggered if SPP has to utilize operating reserves below the required minimum and controlled service interruptions (rolling blackouts) are implemented.
Why is this happening and what caused the issuance of an energy emergency?
High market prices and the declaration of energy emergency alerts are due to a number of factors resulting from widespread, long-lasting and extreme cold weather. These factors include, but are not limited to, high electricity use across the entire SPP system, inadequate supply and high prices of natural gas, and low supply of wind generation and wind-forecast uncertainty.
Fuel to run generation plants are having trouble getting gas because it is either not available or natural gas supply lines are freezing up. Northern Natural Gas (NNG) issued a force majeure due to lack of gas supply to their receipt points.
When conditions exist that could lead to an energy deficiency, SPP coordinates with its load-serving utilities to issue a public appeal for energy conservation. The goal of this action is to reduce the overall system load and keep it below region-wide total generating capacity.
When a region becomes energy deficient, as it did Monday morning, the SPP declares an EEA3 and directs utilities to curtail energy use to bring load back within generating capacity limits. Utilities will responsibly implement temporary interruptions of service (rolling blackouts) to prevent worsening system conditions that could impact a broader area or have longer-lasting effects.
How can I help conserve energy?
Simple, effective ways for end-use consumers to meaningfully conserve energy include adjusting thermostats to cooler temperatures; scheduling appliances like dishwashers and washing machines to run during off-peak times or delaying cycles altogether; and keeping doors, windows and blinds shut to retain heat in their houses. Other energy efficiency steps include:
- Postpone using major electric appliances such as stoves, dishwashers, and clothes dryers until the energy emergency is over.
- Turn off non-essential electric appliances and equipment (radios, coffee pots, media centers, etc.).
- Turn off power strips if not in use.
- Actively turn off computers and monitors not in use (The "sleep" mode is good, but the "off" mode is better.). If possible, use your laptop computer as it uses much less electricity than your desktop computer.
- Turn off lights wherever possible (don’t forget outside and decorative lighting).
- Adjust your thermostat. Reduce unnecessary use of all air conditioning/heating units.
- If you have an electric range, plan meals that require a minimum of cooking.
- Open shades and blinds during the day and close shades and blinds at night to save energy.
- Rock your winter wardrobe indoors.
- Avoid using your exhaust fans.
- If you have a fireplace, keep the damper closed when it is not in use.