February 14, 2021

Southwest Power Pool preparing for worsening system conditions due to extreme cold

Little Rock, Ark. — The effects of widespread and extreme cold weather have led to increasingly tightening conditions in Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) service territory. We have requested that our members and market participants throughout the SPP region conserve energy beginning at midnight central time on Monday, Feb. 15 and for the following 48 hours to mitigate the risk of more widespread and longer-lasting outages.

SPP declared a period of conservative operations for our entire balancing authority area at 00:00 central time on Feb. 9. Then, on Feb. 14, we declared an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) Level 1 to be effective at 5:00 am central time on Monday, Feb. 15.

The declaration of conservative operations signaled to SPP’s member company utility operators that they should operate conservatively to mitigate the risk of worsening conditions. To bolster system reliability, SPP may require generating units to be available for upcoming operating days with notifications for commitment issued multiple days in advance. SPP took these steps in preparation for the extreme weather conditions already experienced and expected over the next couple of days.

An EEA1 signals that SPP foresees or is experiencing conditions where all available resources are scheduled to meet firm load obligations and that we may be unable to sustain its required contingency reserves.

SPP’s analysis of current forecast data indicates that conditions may continue to tighten over the next several days because of persistent, widespread and extreme cold. We have recommended that load-serving utilities throughout our region take conservation measures to mitigate the risk of more widespread and longer-lasting outages. End-use customers in the SPP region should follow their local utilities’ instructions regarding the potential for outages, the need to conserve electricity or natural gas, and other steps to ensure their safety and the integrity of the regional grid.

An EEA1 is the first of three levels of energy emergency alert. An EEA2 would be triggered if SPP could no longer meet expected energy requirements and was considered energy deficient, or if SPP foresaw or had taken actions up to but excluding the interruption of firm load obligations. At this point, SPP would have utilized available energy reserves and would have requested assistance from other neighboring utility operators.

SPP is coordinating closely with our members and market participants to respond to high demand for electricity, inadequate supply of natural gas, and wind-forecast uncertainty among other variables.

Derek Wingfield, 501-614-3394, dwingfield@spp.org