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SPP downgrades Energy Emergency Alert Level, says generation meeting demand

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Posted at 11:03 AM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 15:48:53-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Update - 2:00 p.m.

The Southern Power Pool (SPP) said the Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) level has been reduced to level 1 and power generation is meeting demand.

While the EEA level has been downgraded, the SPP is still urging people to conserve electricity and said interruptions are not being detected at this time.

Previous story - 1:01 p.m.

Following days of rolling outages to preserve power grids in the midwest, Nebraska Public Power District President and Chief CEO Thomas Kent provided an update.

While interruptions to service were avoided this morning, as had been possible at the time, Kent said “we’re not out of the woods yet.”

Currently, the South Power Pool (SPP) is operating at level 2 and is managing to balance demand and energy production. If the SPP calls for level 3 protocol, rolling outages could once again be used to restore balance.

Kent said that the last couple of days of outages were brought on by increased demand due to cold weather and a likely inability to produce energy by partners in the southern portion of the SPP where equipment isn’t designed to weather such cold temperatures.

Here in Nebraska, crews had to fight the weather as well where frigid temperatures led to freezing fuel lines and fuel transmission issues. He thanked the crews and people across the state who did their part by lowering their energy consumption.

At all times, NPPD and partners are asked to produce 12% more power than necessary within their districts so power can be shifted to areas where an increased need may arise. This can come in handy when equipment fails as has been the case in Nebraska before. During those times of need, partners in the SPP have provided power to NPPD.

In regards to a statement by Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts that this sort of thing shouldn’t happen and adjustments need to be made, Kent agreed. He believes the series of rolling outages will lead to evaluation of energy production needs among partners in the SPP and adjustments will be made where needed.

NPPD is capable of producing about 2640 megawatts and demand is currently around 1800 megawatts. Energy production by the district is accomplished by a mixed-use of coal, nuclear, solar, wind and other fuels.

As to whether renewable energy sources are to blame, Kent said they make up a small portion of NPPD's grid and can be less reliable due to weather but should still be part of the equation to reduce carbon emissions and meet customer needs. Traditional forms of energy production like coal and nuclear allow fuel to be stored on-site which can be beneficial, he said.

Kent does not anticipate the need to use additional rolling outages thanks to "more seasonable" weather moving into the area, especially over the weekend.

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