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Xcel, utilities declare energy emergency, initiate outages


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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 the ability of utilities to meet customer demand, according to a press release issued Tuesday morning by Xcel Energy.

The press release continues, “To protect the regional grid and maintain reliability, Xcel Energy, along with area electric co-ops and municipal utilities … 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, the press release states — if customers experience a service interruption of more than one hour they should contact 1-800-895-1999 or report the outage at xcelenergy.com or through the Xcel Energy customer app.

“Natural gas 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 …” said David Hudson, president, Xcel Energy-New Mexico, Texas.

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Xcel is a member of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), which manages the electric grid across 17 central and western U.S. States. Xcel initiated controlled outages after SPP called on its members to relieve loading on the central U.S. grid, affecting electric customers in multiple states.

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, the press release states. As the controlled outage is cycled, a different group of customers will be interrupted.

“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 …”

Xcel has notified local governments and law enforcement so they can be prepared to direct vehicular traffic if traffic signals are affected, according to the press release.

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