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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

Updated 46 mins ago - Economy & Business

The billionaire balloon

Data: World Inequality Report 2022; Chart: Axios Visuals

The super-rich are getting stupid rich: New data out today shows the share of global wealth held by the richest slice of humanity swelled by almost a full percentage point during the pandemic.

Driving the news: The top 0.01% of individuals now hold about 11% of the world's wealth, compared to just over 10% in 2020, according to the "World Inequality Report 2022," written by Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
47 mins ago - Health

Omicron gives a shot to boosters

Expand chart
Data: CDC; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Vaccination rates have ticked higher since the discovery of the Omicron variant, CDC data shows.

By the numbers: The seven-day average for vaccinations in the U.S. reached about 1.8 million on Monday, up from an average of about 1.3 million a month ago.

Scoop: Over 200 papers quietly sue Big Tech

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Newspapers all over the country have been quietly filing antitrust lawsuits against Google and Facebook for the past year, alleging the two firms monopolized the digital ad market for revenue that would otherwise go to local news. 

Why it matters: What started as a small-town effort to take a stand against Big Tech has turned into a national movement, with over 200 newspapers involved across dozens of states.