February 18, 2021

SPP ends Energy Emergency Alert, remains in conservative operations

As of 9:30 a.m. Central time, Feb. 18, Southwest Power Pool (SPP) is no longer under an energy emergency alert (EEA). Due to continuing high loads and other implications of severe cold weather, it remains in a period of conservative operations until 10 p.m. Central time, Feb. 20, for the entire SPP balancing authority area.

 “SPP thanks its members, neighboring systems and the millions of people in our region for their response to this historic event,” said Barbara Sugg, SPP president and chief executive officer. “This has been a case study in everyone doing their part on behalf of the greater good. We take our responsibility to keep the lights on very seriously and appreciate the trust placed in us to do so. Thanks to voluntary conservation by people across our 14-state region, the quick actions taken by local utilities, and the dedication and expertise of our operators, we’re thankful we could keep the region-wide impact of this storm to a minimum.”

While grid conditions have improved, we anticipate load and generation fluctuation over the next 48 hours, and conditions could change rapidly. In periods of conservative operations, SPP may use longer-term unit commitment notifications, including making commitments prior to day-ahead and/or committing resources that are in reliability status.

SPP previously declared a move from EEA Level 2 to EEA Level 1 at 10:59 p.m. Central time, Feb. 17, 2021. An EEA is declared when all available resources have been committed to meet obligations, and SPP is at risk of not meeting required operating reserves.

“SPP’s and our members’ grid operators are highly trained in crisis situations and work closely together to bring power back online in a controlled manner to ensure grid stability and safety,” said Bruce Rew, SPP senior vice president of operations. “We appreciate how impactful the loss of electricity can be, especially in extreme cold, and only direct our utilities to temporarily reduce regional electricity use when it’s the only way to prevent longer, more widespread, more dangerous, and more costly blackouts.”

This cold-weather event marks the first time in SPP’s history that it has declared Energy Emergency Alert Levels 2 or 3 for its entire region. It is also the first time the grid operator has had to direct member utilities to implement controlled, temporary service interruptions to prevent widespread blackouts.

“Considering the historic nature of this storm and how broadly it affected the entire SPP region, we’re grateful we could limit the use of controlled service interruptions to lessen the chance of longer, more impactful and more costly outages,” said Lanny Nickell, SPP executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Since SPP’s issuance of a Cold Weather Alert to member utilities on Feb. 6, the first indication that heightened awareness was needed in response to forecast weather conditions, the grid operator only directed the interruption of service twice: once for approximately 50 minutes on the morning of Feb. 15, and again for a little more than three hours on the morning of Feb. 16.

While SPP works to maintain regional reliability, customers across our region should continue to follow their local utility’s directions regarding safety, conservation and potential outages.

 About SPP:  Southwest Power Pool, Inc. is a regional transmission organization: a not-for-profit corporation mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure and competitive wholesale electricity prices on behalf of its members. SPP manages the electric grid across 17 central and western U.S. states and provides energy services on a contract basis to customers in both the Eastern and Western Interconnections. The company’s headquarters are in Little Rock, Arkansas. Learn more at SPP.org.

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