Omaha and Lincoln utilities have to implement rotating failures

(Undated) – Parts of Nebraska, including the Omaha Subway, are implementing rolling power outages to conserve electricity on those bitterly cold days.

Omaha Public Power District tweeted Monday that it had been instructed to conduct rolling outages, advising that “electricity should be off for about an hour in total”. The Omaha Public Power District outage portal on its website went down early Monday afternoon. According to the OPPD, the extreme cold is currently putting a strain on the electrical system. According to the Power District, the regional reliability coordinator is instructing its utilities in 17 states, including OPPD, to throttle energy use to balance supply and demand.

According to the OPPD, customers can experience scheduled periodic power outages until the weather normalizes over the next few days.

On Monday afternoon, the OPPD released a statement regarding the outages:

We know this is impractical and difficult to do. Please note that we would only deliberately disconnect the power supply in an emergency. Please visit Stormandoutage.com for more information and updates. Thank you for your support in this time of need. Many of our larger customers have supported this effort by limiting their usage and many of you have done your part to conserve energy and this has helped. The freezing temperatures have resulted in record winter demand for energy throughout the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), which stretches from the Canadian border to Texas. The entire region is exposed to these temperatures and stresses the system. The men and women at OPPD worked around the clock to make sure our generation was producing electricity. However, we were instructed by our regional transmission organization SPP, to which the OPPD also belongs, to start load shedding in our service area. Other member companies in the Midwest are also receiving this request. At 12:09 p.m., controlled, coordinated outages began on the Omaha subway, beginning in the southern subway area. The failures are based on the load on the system and are carried out in a systematic, grid-based approach. No area is preferred to any other. For more information, please visit visitstormandoutage.com. We understand this is an inconvenience for you, your families, and your businesses. Please note that these actions are now being taken in accordance with regulatory authorities and instructions from SPP. By doing these coordinated outages now, we can avoid unplanned and prolonged outages later.

An OPPD board member tweeted Monday afternoon that all but 2,000 Bellevue customers were to be restored, but had no timeframe to resolve the issue in Sarpy County.

OPPD, the Metropolitan Utilities District, and the Nebraska Public Power District urged customers to voluntarily reduce their electricity consumption, starting overnight on Sunday and through Tuesday as the area was dangerously cold.

Rotating planned outages is usually limited to 30 to 60 minutes – but can take longer – before rotating them to another location.

The same requirement applied to the Lincoln Electric System, which would begin rotating scheduled power outages due to “unprecedented energy demands” Monday. The outages were suspended in the afternoon, but LES warned that the situation was “fluid” and the rolling outages might be implemented again. “This type of demand reduction is only used as a last resort to ensure grid reliability,” LES said in a press release.

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