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Xcel Energy, local electric cooperatives declare energy emergency, initiate controlled outages

Persistent deficiencies in natural gas supplies that fuel power plants in the central U.S., including Xcel Energy power plants in Texas and New Mexico, are threatening area utilities’ ability to meet customer demand.

To protect the regional grid and maintain reliability, Xcel Energy, along with area electric co-ops and municipal utilities such as Lubbock Power & Light that purchase electricity from Xcel Energy, have been forced to interrupt power to pre-selected electric circuits for up to one hour at a time until system conditions improve. Interruptions began at 6:45 a.m.

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 or through the Xcel Energy customer app.

“Natural 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.” said David Hudson, president, Xcel Energy – New Mexico, Texas.

Xcel Energy is a member of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), which 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. Xcel Energy initiated controlled outages after SPP called on its members to relieve loading on the central U.S. grid, affecting electric customers in multiple states.

Xcel Energy has notified local governments and law enforcement officials so they can be prepared to direct vehicular traffic if traffic signals are affected.

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.

“We appreciate everything our customers are doing to conserve energy, and we know these power issues are disruptive,” Hudson said. “As the temperatures warm, we expect the system to recover quickly and in the meantime are doing everything we can to stretch fuel supplies for our generating fleet in this region.”

Lamb County Electric announced through its Facebook page Tuesday morning it was being required to “shed load” in the Whitharral, Hart Camp and Spade areas. The post read as follows:

“To our members in the Whitharral, Hart Camp, and Spade areas: we have been directed to shed load in your areas. This may or may not affect you, and if it hasn’t yet, it could as we rotate. Hopefully this will not last long and we certainly appreciate your patience.”

Lyntegar Electric Cooperative announced at 8 p.m. Monday they would also be doing “load shedding,” which their company explained via their Facebook page “means each provider must turn off a certain percentage of their load in order to keep the ERCOT grid operational. Every electric provider, including Lyntegar, in ERCOT is being required to shed a certain percentage of their load.”

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