Western Iowa electric cooperatives are notifying customers of the potential of rolling blackouts through today.
Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative of Glidden CEO Jim Gossett says there’s an extremely high demand due to the frigid temperatures, and power may need to be rationed. He says a rolling blackout means one of the substations will be shut down for about 45 minutes and those members on the substations will be out of power.
Gossett says the blackouts are controlled by the power supplier. He says the rolling blackouts protect all users. “In order to save the whole system from losing power –we cut some load, we cut some demand purposely, probably a substation at a time, depending on what our power supplier tells us to do,” according to Gossett.
Calhoun County Electric Cooperative Association and other rural providers are sending similar warnings to their customers. Gossett says, they are not experiencing an emergency — they are just protecting themselves from one.
Rolling blackouts are possible through at least this evening and are most likely during peak usage times, which are generally between 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. He encourages people to reduce their electricity consumption, especially during these periods. You can do that by delaying nonessential power usage.
“Such as dishwashers, dryers, anything that uses power. Shift that to after eight o’clock at night, that’s the best thing that we can do. And because we are on high alert for rolling blackouts, you certainly would want to keep yourself warm the best you can,” Gossett says. “Although in 45 minutes, most locations will not see a dramatic drop, even in cold weather.”
He suggests people prepare for a temporary loss of power in the same way they would plan for a storm-related outage. Have a few flashlights handy ahead of time, have an extra layer of clothes ready, and conserve heat by limiting trips outside.
MidAmerican Energy issued a statement Monday afternoon encouraging homeowners with natural gas heating systems to reduce usage as supply is limited due to frozen wells in the southern U.S. MidAmerican Energy said the company was not experiencing any problems with the electric supply.
Alliant Energy released a statement saying it is projecting sufficient supply to meet the needs of natural gas and electric customers. The National Weather Service says temperatures should be returning to more normal levels for February by the end of the week.
(By Nathan Konz, KCIM, Carroll)