This week's extreme weather, which stretched throughout the Midwest, plunged temperatures to historic lows, some of which have not been seen in more than 70 years.
As residents in Washington County and the Omaha metro area experienced frigid temperatures, a rare winter storm knocked out power to more than 4 million homes in Texas.
The demand for power surged as families sought to keep their homes warm as the temperatures continued to drop. This put a strain on area power companies.
The Southwest Power Pool (SPP), a regional power transmission group that serves 17 states streching from North Dakota to Texas, reported electricity use had exceeded available generation and an Energy Emergency Alert was declared.
“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,” said Lanny Nickell, SPP executive vice president and chief operating officer. “It's a last resort that we understand puts a burden on our member utilities and the customers they serve, but it's a step we're consciously taking to precent circumstances from getting worse, which could result in uncontrolled outages of even greater magnitude.”
On Monday, the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) and other power districts across the region began rolling power outages at the direction of the SPP, of which OPPD is a member. The rolling outages continued Tuesday.
Throughout the rolling blackouts, OPPD and the other power companies worked to keep their customers informed. Though there were no outages in Washington County, many residents reported receiving notifications from OPPD in the event they would.
Cutting power to thousands of homes is never ideal, but for most, it was no more than an hour.
In total, more than 80,000 OPPD customers were affected by the outages. Some received advance notice of the blackouts, while others received an automated call after power was cut to inform them it was a planned outage and power would be restored soon.
OPPD and the other power companies should be commended for their efforts to keep their customers and the communities they serve informed during such a trying time.