Home News Local News Xcel rep says power outages could occur today

Xcel rep says power outages could occur today

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Some Roswell and Chaves County residents could experience electrical power outages again Wednesday morning due to the winter storm and its below-freezing temperatures, according to an Xcel Energy representative.

“We are reminding our customers to be prepared that could happen,” said Wes Reeves, a senior media relations representative.

All Xcel Energy consumers are asked to conserve electricity throughout the day and at least until the afternoon.

“I really think it is going to be Thursday and Friday before we really see a return to normal conditions,” Reeves said.

In its request that people decrease energy consumption, Xcel Energy has recommended that people set their thermostats to 68 degrees or lower; suspend use of appliances such as dishwashers, vacuums and washing machines and dryers; turn off unnecessary indoor lights and refrain from using appliances not needed for health and safety; and look for ways to keep indoor rooms warm.

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That could include running ceiling fans clockwise to push heat down, limiting the opening of refrigerators, keeping curtains and blinds open when the sun is out and closed at night or during cloudy periods, and opening interior doors so that warm air can circulate.

Reeves said that officers with Southwest Power Pool, electrical utilities and electrical cooperatives planned to meet Tuesday night to consider outages needed today.

The exact number of outages that occurred Tuesday in the Chaves County area was not available by press time, but Reeves said that “between Texas and New Mexico, we had about 58,000 customers who experienced an outage.”

Reeves explained that freezing temperatures have caused production problems for natural gas, including in wellfields and to pipelines to the south of Chaves County. He said a 30% decrease in production was experienced by Tuesday night.

The natural gas supply problems are affecting electrical power generation for the 17 Central and Western states belonging to the Southwest Power Pool. According to Reeves, the power pool determines when imbalances in the power system are about to occur and drives decisions about needed outages.

He said that outages began for the Texas-New Mexico division of Xcel Energy — which includes the Texas Panhandle, southeastern New Mexico and the Texas South Plains — at about 5:45 a.m. Mountain Time.

“By about 10 a.m. Mountain Time, conditions had improved and we suspended the outages at that time,” he said.

Xcel Energy issues notifications of possible outages as soon as possible, with news media advisories made at the time that outages are implemented.

Advance notification to individual customers is not possible, Reeves said, because circuits are randomly selected and electrical utilities only receive notification of the need for outages about a minute before they are to be implemented. He said Xcel seeks to limit outages affecting any one area as much as possible.

Outages last from about 45 minutes to an hour, he said, although it can take longer for some people or businesses to restart their electrical systems.

He said natural gas utilities do not have the same supply issues in New Mexico because they have priority on natural gas supplies.

“Household gas is prioritized over propane gas,” he said. “They are trying to ensure that there is enough gas to heat people’s homes.”

The New Mexico Gas Co. issued a statement on social media indicating that gas shortages are not anticipated in this area.

“With this week’s extreme weather conditions, many states continue to experience challenges with electricity and natural gas supply,” a post issued about 4 p.m. Tuesday said. “NMGC is experiencing no reliability issues but, if health permits, we encourage customers to consider lowering your thermostat by 3 to 5 degrees to help you conserve energy and save money on your utility bill.”

The company’s website also had a list of energy conservation ideas, which included keeping water heaters at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or below and limiting the use of hot water.

The power outages and freezing temperatures did lead to some closures of local facilities.

Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell posted to social media that the campus was closed Tuesday due to the weather.

The city of Roswell closed the Municipal Court Tuesday, with people asked to call today about their court hearings, said city spokesman Todd Wildermuth.

The landfill also has closed until further notice. Trash pick-up, which is delayed a day this week for customers who usually receive service on Mondays and Tuesdays because of Monday’s federal holiday, was postponed about three hours Tuesday. Pecos Trails Transit bus service also experienced some delays Tuesday and was running only on Main Street and not on side streets.

The issues Tuesday did not cause problems for traffic signals, Wildermuth said, nor did it harm city water lines. The city’s water maintenance unit did not anticipate problems for the rest of the week, Wildermuth said.

The city continues to advise private property owners to guard against possible frozen pipes by allowing a small amount of water to drip from faucets, keeping basements and home interiors above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and by keeping open the doors to cabinets that contain sink pipes.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.