Midwest Energy: Bitter cold leaves electric, gas supplies tight
With record-breaking cold expected to grip much of the country through mid-week, Midwest Energy is asking customers whose health permits to turn thermostats down a bit, and to not use appliances with heavy electricity consumption, beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday, Feb. 15 and continuing through mid-week.
“Last week brought a trifecta of bad events – the lowest temperatures in decades across the entire region for more than a week; tight supplies of natural gas due to record use and supply interruptions; and finally, wind generation resources are at low levels and the wind is forecast to decrease further Sunday evening,” said Bill Dowling, Midwest Energy’s Vice President for Engineering and Energy Supply.
Patrick Parke, Midwest Energy’s Chief Executive Officer suggests there are a few specific actions customers can take to make a significant impact on electric and natural gas demand:
· If your health permits, turn your furnace thermostat down 2 to 4 degrees.
· Postpone using high-consumption appliances such as clothes dryers, ovens and dishwashers. Delay laundry a day or two, or making microwave-friendly meals, and hand-washing dishes (if you have an electric water heater) would save significant amounts of electricity.
· Turn off any lights and appliances that you do not need or are not using.
The Southwest Power Pool, which is the regional transmission operator for a 14-state region, issued a region-wide Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) Level 1 to be effective at 5:00 am central time on Monday, Feb. 15. An EEA1 is the first of three levels of energy emergency alert. An EEA2 will be triggered if SPP no longer has sufficient generation available to meet expected energy requirements and reserves are considered deficient. A Level 3 event will result in planned service interruptions. Throughout SPP’s 14-state area, similar calls for conservation are being made by all electric utilities.
The record-breaking cold is also putting a significant strain on natural gas supplies. The cold weather is freezing off natural gas production, making less gas available for delivery to customers. Midwest Energy
is asking its natural gas customers to conserve energy as well. We are seeing unprecedented demand on the gas system due to both the cold weather and the large demand for electric generation fuel.
“These next few days will be very tight in terms of both electric and natural gas supplies,” Parke said. “I’ve not seen a situation like this in my nearly four decades of utility experience.”