Feb 15, 2021 - Energy & Environment

14 states warned of possible power cuts amid extreme weather

Southwest Power Pool, which manages the electric grid and wholesale power market for 14 central states, said Monday that it directed its members to begin controlled power outages.

The state of play: SPP will implement "controlled interruptions of service" to prevent uncontrolled power cuts as states across the region face an aggressive winter storm.

  • The company issued an Energy Emergency Alert Level 3, meaning "its operating reserves are below the required minimum."
  • SPP specified that while it told its member utilities to curtail energy use, those members will handle whether the outages are scheduled or not.
  • SPP manages the electric grid in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.

What they're saying: "After exhausting usage of available reserve energy, SPP has now subsequently directed its member utilities to implement controlled interruptions of service to prevent further, more widespread and uncontrolled outages," SPP said in a statement.

  • "In our history as a grid operator, this is an unprecedented event and marks the first time SPP has ever had to call for controlled interruptions of service," Lanny Nickel, SPP's executive vice president, said.

Worth noting: More than 2 million people in Texas are already without electricity as they face single-digit temperatures and sub-zero wind chill.

Zoom out: At least 400,000 homes, businesses and other customers lost power in Mexico as the cold temperatures in Texas triggered a natural gas shortage and took power plants offline.

  • Roughly 70% of those impacted had their power restored by midday, according to the grid operator, Cenace.
Go deeper