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Power outages could affect traffic on slick commute, Tuesday morning

Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 11:20 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Xcel Energy is warning customers that based on the current energy usage, customers could experience short power outages into Tuesday morning. This also includes the Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) region and Lubbock Power & Light (LP&L).

“We are watching the situation very closely but believe it’s likely SPP will direct Xcel Energy to initiate controlled outages based on current and anticipated system conditions,” David Hudson, president, Xcel Energy – New Mexico, Texas said in a press release Monday evening.

“We will have a clearer picture of the situation in the morning but want area customers to be prepared for an additional round of controlled outages that would be initiated to maintain the continuity of the system.”

Outages could last for 30 minutes to an hour.

Not only could that affect residential neighborhoods, but traffic lights as well in already deteriorating road conditions.

“We are in communication with LP&L through the Emergency Operations Center with the city, to respond to those areas where roll-outs are occurring or even before if possible,” representative for LPD Allison Matherly said.

Officers are on standby to direct traffic at intersections that could be affected over the next few days, no matter what time of day.Matherly says, it is also important for drivers to know what to expect too.

“If you do come across a traffic light that is black, you should definitely treat it as a 4 way stop and you’ll be good to go. Make sure you’re watching all different lanes of traffic including the turn lanes,” she explained.

Meanwhile another big threat for Tuesday morning, is roadway conditions. Snow on residential and city streets, and re-freezing, are expected to make for a possibly slick commute.

Major roadways like I-27 and Loop 289 could pose a problem for drivers too. Dianah Ascencio with TX-dot says crews are working to treat the road, with another dose of wintry weather expected.

“The bitterly-cold temperatures are still going to cause portions of the roadways to freeze,” she said. “As we all know bridges and overpasses are the first parts of the roadways that tend to freeze. So we’re doing our part, but we definitely want drivers to do their part,” Ascencio added.

See the entire press release from Xcel Energy below:

AMARILLO, Texas (Feb. 15, 2021) – Additional curtailment of natural gas to regional power plants is setting up another possible round of controlled outages in Xcel Energy’s Texas-New Mexico service area into the morning hours on Tuesday.

Xcel Energy and the electric cooperatives* in the Texas South Plains, Texas Panhandle and eastern and southeastern New Mexico regions, along with municipal systems such as Lubbock Power & Light, have extended appeals to area electric customers to back off their use of electricity to help avoid further disruptions.

Extreme cold weather has created energy deficiencies not only on Xcel Energy’s regional system but in the Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) region as well. 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. SPP and Xcel Energy declare an Energy Alert only when a reduction in electricity use is urgently needed to maintain the continuity of the electricity system and service to customers.

“We are watching the situation very closely but believe it’s likely SPP will direct Xcel Energy to initiate controlled outages based on current and anticipated system conditions,” said David Hudson, president, Xcel Energy – New Mexico, Texas. “We will have a clearer picture of the situation in the morning but want area customers to be prepared for an additional round of controlled outages that would be initiated to maintain the continuity of the system.”

Hudson said natural gas production is off because of the extreme cold, and supplies are freezing up in the wellfields, limiting the amount of gas that can be delivered over pipelines to power plants across the region and beyond. This is occurring across multiple states, including all of Texas.

Controlled outages last between 30 minutes to an hour and are spread over the entire footprint of the company’s Texas-New Mexico area in order to minimize disruptions. As the controlled outage is cycled, a different group of customers will be interrupted in the subsequent set.

Suggestions on how customers can reduce electric load to help stretch limited power supplies include:

  • Set thermostats to 68 degrees or lower.
  • Open drapes and blinds to maximize heat from direct sunlight. Otherwise, close them to insulate warm air inside from the cold windowpanes.
  • Run ceiling fans in a clockwise direction to push warm air down from the ceiling, adding comfort and savings.
  • Keep interior doors open to help circulate air more freely and maintain constant heating levels.
  • 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.
  • Limit the opening and reopening of refrigerators, which are major users of electricity in most homes.
  • Turn off unnecessary lighting, leaving on only enough to move about safely indoors.

Xcel Energy indicates that, if customers do not reduce their use, electricity demand may exceed the amount of electricity the company will be able to supply. Failure to reduce electricity demand could result in controlled electric service interruptions within the region

* Electric cooperatives in the Texas South Plains, Texas Panhandle and eastern and southeastern New Mexico regions include:

  • Bailey County Electric Cooperative Association (Texas)
  • Big Country Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Texas)
  • Deaf Smith Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Texas)
  • Greenbelt Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Texas)
  • Lamb County Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Texas)
  • Lighthouse Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Texas)
  • Lyntegar Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Texas)
  • North Plains Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Texas)
  • Rita Blanca Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Texas)
  • South Plains Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Texas)
  • Swisher Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Texas)
  • Central Valley Electric Cooperative (New Mexico)
  • Farmers Electric Cooperative (New Mexico)
  • Roosevelt County Electric Cooperative (New Mexico)
  • Lea County Electric Cooperative (New Mexico)

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