SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The utility companies supplying power in South Dakota will be getting enough power from their sources during this cold snap, industry officials said.
“We don’t see any eminent threat of wide spread outages,” said Derek Wingfield of media relations for the Southwest Power Pool. The SPP serves 17 states. Although cold weather is in the forecast for most of those 17 states the system should be able to meet the demand, he said.
It’s cold, but, “there is not much of a concern. We aren’t looking at any outages, barring any kind of emergency at a generation plant,” said Chris Studer, public relations officer for East River Electric in Madison. “Electric usage is going to go up but we’re confident there will be enough for everyone.”
“Our power supplier is Basin Electric Power Cooperative and they are sitting good,” said Brad Schardin the general manager of Southeastern Electric Cooperative.
Schardin described the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) as the “traffic controller for energy in South Dakota” and 16 other states. “(SPP) is expecting electricity usage to be up,” he said. But, SPP has the resources to cover the increase in use because of the cold, Schardin said.
The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) is a “regional transmission organization (RTO): a nonprofit corporation mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure and competitive wholesale electricity prices on behalf of its members,” the SPP website said.
Wingfield said while the SPP was not expecting a threat of wide spread power outages as of Dec. 21, locally a branch that falls in the wind onto a power line could still cause an outage in someone’s rural area or city.
Schardin said Southeastern and cooperatives around the state know the wind is coming and are prepared to respond as needed.
Possible wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph are predicted for areas around the state.
Where does the power come if demands are higher?
Studer said power sources include natural gas, wind, solar, coal, fuel oil and others.
Power plants or generators of energy are required to have a certain amount of sources in reserve.
The first step during a peak demand time would be to use the next source of power.
The next level after, “We call that the peaking plant” Studer said. Generally when a peaking plant is used a more expensive source of energy is used, Studer said.
Natural gas or fuel oil are more expensive sources in December 2022.
“At the power plant in Spirit Mound, there’s a fuel oil generator. Fuel oil costs are high,” Schardin said. “But that’s a resource that can be called on but it comes at a significantly higher cost.”
Wingfield said SPP is committed to first using the most reliable and cheapest form of energy for its network partners.
SPP has been working with its partners ahead of the forecasted cold and storms, Wingfield said.
Power plants have been notified to execute their winter weather plans, he said. For example, a power plant should make sure it has additional fuel or contracts in hand in preparation for high demand.
SPP also anticipates the weather and higher demand by contacting resources in advance that more energy may be needed. Wingfield said the energy demand is calculated days in advance. Calculations will continue up to the minute during the cold weather, he said.
Will my energy bill go up because it’s cold?
Yes and no, because it depends on individual and overall use.
Schardin said during the cold weather peak times will be similar to an average day with 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. as a peak period when everyone wakes up and gets ready for the day.
The second peak period is from about 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. as the second peak of the day. “When everybody gets home and throws a load in the washer or a pizza in the oven…,” Schardin said.
If consumers can avoid using heavy appliances and reduce use in general during those peak times, it can help reduce demand which can help reduce costs for the utility company, Schardin said.
Schardin said when a utility cooperative can save money, it passes those savings to a customer.
Reducing use during peak times, “can be a huge benefit in keeping our power costs down,” Schardin said.