Xcel plans power interruptions

Officials asking customers to reduce use of electricity


Last updated 2/15/2021 at 1:45pm

Xcel Energy and area electric co-ops are interrupting power to some electric circuits for up to one hour at a time because of the extreme cold conditions.

An Xcel Energy news release stated temperatures below zero have slowed the flow of natural gas to power plants across the central U.S., including Xcel Energy plants in Texas and New Mexico.

The power interruptions are "to protect the regional grid and maintain reliability," Xcel stated in the release.

The release also stated:

More than one service interruption may be possible. There is no need to report an outage during a controlled outage event. If customers experience a service interruption of more than one hour they should contact 1-800-895-1999 or report the outage at xcelenergy.com or through the Xcel Energy customer app.

“These temporary, controlled power outages help bring balance to the supply and demand of electricity in the market,” said David Hudson, president, Xcel Energy – New Mexico, Texas. “Xcel Energy uses controlled outages as a last resort, and regrets that the extreme conditions today have led to these interruptions in service.”

Xcel spokesman Wes Reeves said officials "don't have much advance notice on when controlled outages occur.

"I think the best thing for people to know is it could happen today and has already in some places," he said.

Earlier Monday, Xcel, along with the electric cooperatives in the Texas Panhandle and eastern New Mexico, declared an “energy alert level” and are urging customers to cut back on their use of electricity.

“We are making a public appeal to our customers to turn off lights and appliances unless it would harm their health,” said Hudson.

Suggestions on how reduce electric load include:

• Set thermostats to 68 degrees or lower.

• Suspend use of electrical appliances (dishwashers, washing machines, clothes dryers, vacuum cleaners, etc.)

• Put off tasks at work, if possible, that would demand electricity (power tools, maintenance equipment, etc.).

• Turn off televisions and electronic equipment unless they are necessary to conduct business or to ensure your health and safety.

• Turn off unnecessary lighting, leaving on only enough to move about safely indoors.

“Failure to reduce electricity demand could result in controlled electric service interruptions within the region,” the news release stated.

A news release from Farmers Electric in New Mexico stated:

“Operating conditions may continue to tighten over the next several days because of this widespread and extreme cold winter weather event, as well as an inadequate supply of natural gas required to power some gas-powered electric generation units.”

Farmers spokesman Thom Moore said the co-op may also employ one-hour outages "to help stabilize the integrity of the regional grid."

Temperatures plunged well below zero across the region on Monday morning. The National Weather Service issued a wind-chill warning stating “wind chills as low as 30 below zero … could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes.”

Monday’s high temperature was forecast for the low 20s across the area, with temperatures expected to drop back into the single digits for overnight lows.

Freezing temperatures were expected continuously until Friday when highs were expected in the low 50s.

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