Utilities asking Tri-Cities customers to save electricity

JBS, New Holland, McCain Foods cut back electricity use
An historic cold snap was putting pressure on the electrical grid and prompting utilities to...
An historic cold snap was putting pressure on the electrical grid and prompting utilities to ask their customers to save energy.(Credit: Eddie Gaspar/The Texas Tribune)
Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 3:11 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 15, 2021 at 3:39 PM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - A historic and prolonged cold snap Monday put great pressure on the power grid and prompted central Nebraska utilities to ask their customers to save electricity.

Local utilities were reacting to a Level Three alert issued by the Southwestern Power Pool (SPP), an electric cooperative which includes Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD,) Southern Power, Hastings Utilities and other local utilities.

There was the possibility that SPP would require local utilities to cut power to its local customers for 30-60 minutes.

The Grand Island utilities department asked residential customers to turn thermostats down “a degree or two” and avoid using large appliances where possible. Utilities Director Tim Luchsinger told Local4 that JBS, Case-IH and McCain foods had cut down electricity use at the city’s request.. Luchsinger also said that if a customer loses power it may be because of a black-out, but he said that if a power was out for more than a half-hour, they should call. Luchsinger also said that SPP expected this condition to last into midday on Tuesday.

The Dawson Public Power District said the rural Elm Creek area reported an outage as part of the rolling blackouts taking place.

They said this is not a normal procedure, but due to the extreme cold driving up demand for electricity. Dawson PPD does not have forewarning and cannot tell you before it happens.

Hastings Mayor Corey Stutte pointed out that SPP controlled energy production from Oklahoma north to the Canadian border and called on Hastings residents to do what they could to reduce electricity usage in homes and businesses. A city spokesperson said Hastings was running all power-generating units at full-capacity, but said it was still possible that SPP would demand that the city cut energy use further. The spokesperson also said the City of Hastings was working with some of its biggest energy consuming businesses to reduce power, would cut power to non-public city facilities first and said that cutting power to residential homes would happen only in a worst-case scenario.

Southern Power District, based in Grand Island, said that it was beginning to see 30-minute interruptions of power in its rural south-central Nebraska service area, but that they had not been advised of any schedule for doing so. Southern said they were working with NPPD to “keep up to speed as the situation evolves.” They asked Southern customers to report outages to them at 800-579-3019.

On Sunday, NPPD and city of Hastings asked customers to voluntarily begin measures to save electricity.

Hastings Utilities recommended these energy saving measures:

  • Turn off lights when you leave the room or aren’t using them
  • Turn off and unplug non-essential TVs, appliances, computers, and printers
  • Dry items in your dishwasher simply by opening the door and not using a ‘high temperature’ option
  • Use smaller appliances such as the microwave or toaster instead of the oven
  • Take short showers instead of baths
  • Open curtains and shades during the day on sunny sides of homes to let sunlight in
  • Close curtains and shades at night to provide extra insulation

Utility officials also urged people who rely on battery powered devices to make sure they were fully charged.

The rolling blackout situation may continue over the next few days.

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