Winter storms in Texas cause power outages in North Dakota

The winter weather that hit much of Texas is causing issues here in North Dakota.

Energy experts tell that “freeze-ups” at Texas wind generation facilities accounted for less than 20% of the shortfall, with the rest coming from weather-related malfunctions at natural gas and coal generation facilities.

Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) have declared level 3 energy emergencies. Both serve North Dakota.

SPP directed various power companies to do “controlled blackouts.”

Gov. Doug Burgum says, “We’re seeing a drop in electrical supply in a time where demand is reaching its peak.”

The blackouts are intended to last about 45 minutes at a time.

Wes Engbrecht, of Capitol Electric, called the move unprecedented, but it’s better to shut down parts of the system at a time instead of shutting off the whole system.

He said, “It’s a very rare occurrence. I read yesterday Southwest Power Pool equated it to a 100-year flood. This is one of those perfect storm things.”

The SPP has never called for controlled blackouts in the past.

John Weeda, the director of the North Dakota Transmission Authority said this is affecting businesses as well as residents.

Weeda said, “In my history of working in the industry, starting in 1972, this is the first time ever that my friends and neighbors have been shut off because of lack of generation to the area.”

Some critics say we should have seen an event like this coming due to a growing reliance on wind energy.

Ladd Ericksen, the State’s Attorney in McLean County, said, “The problem is when you get into the peak demand like we are now and the wind isn’t blowing, you can’t meet the needs of the people.”

Capital Electric says it received little to no notice that the outages were coming.

More outages can be expected Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning.

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