Parts of Nebraska sees rolling black outs as energy companies struggle to keep up with demand

Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 9:50 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 16, 2021 at 10:46 AM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - With temperatures below zero for several days in a row, electric companies have had trouble keeping up with the increased demand for energy.

The Southwest Power Pool provides energy to states from the Canada border down to Oklahoma. With all of those states facing below freezing temperatures these last few days, demand for electricity has been higher than usual.

“This is something we were aware was happening over the last few weeks,” LeAnne Doose with the Southern Public Power District told Local4 News. “We talked to our customers over the last few weeks about the need to be efficient with energy usage. We are at a place now that we have not seen prior where there has been a bit of an imbalance between the demand for electricity versus the supply.”

Southern Power and other Nebraska utilities are members of the Southwest Power Pool, which has issued a Level 3 alert, meaning that temporary service interruptions may be necessary.

The company was implementing rolling blackouts across the state on Monday to help out their overwhelmed systems.

“We actually did one for about 30 minutes at several locations across the state,” Nebraska Public Power District Spokesperson Mark Becker said. “These things are going to happen. We are asking people to conserve energy between now and over the next 48 hours.”

“It’s really an unprecedented situation,” Doose said. “One that we haven’t seen here for most of us in our years working in the electric industry.”

There are a few ways you can reduce how much electricity you use. The big one is to turn your heat down to about 68 degrees.

“Unplug unneeded electrical appliances, use a microwave to cook in instead of an oven,” Becker said. “Those kinds of things.”

JBS, Case IH and McCain foods all voluntarily cut back operations on Monday to save electricity as well. With everyone’s efforts, the company announced they are in a much better place on Monday evening. They ask that everyone still is careful with how much electric they are using.

Editors note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Southern Power as a regional cooperative. The Southwest Power Pool is a regional cooperative responsible for creating balance between supply and demand for its member utilities.

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