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Xcel says electricity conservation still needed

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Representatives with Xcel Energy say people in southeastern New Mexico should continue to reduce electricity use today to help avoid power outages, as temperatures are expected to remain below freezing in Chaves County and other areas of the Xcel Energy service area.

The company issued an announcement Wednesday saying that customer conservation, as well as some improvements in natural gas fuel deliveries to power plants, helped prevent controlled outages Wednesday across the Panhandle and South Plains regions of Texas and in eastern and southeastern New Mexico. Outages did occur in Chaves County and among 58,000 Xcel customers in New Mexico and Texas on Tuesday.

“Electricity supply remains extremely tight through at least Thursday,” the announcement stated. “Xcel Energy, regional electric cooperatives and municipal systems such as Lubbock Power & Light are extending appeals to area electric customers to reduce energy use through Thursday and help avoid further disruptions.”

Ways to reduce electricity use include lowering thermostats to 68 degrees Fahrenheit or lower; opening curtains and blinds during sunny periods and closing them to keep in heat during cloudy periods; reducing the use of appliances and indoor lighting to those needed for health and safety; and turning ceiling fans in a clockwise direction to direct warm air down.

David Hudson, president of Xcel Energy of New Mexico and Texas, said in Wednesday’s announcement that morning peak usage had decreased noticeably in recent days.

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“The natural gas delivery issues are still persisting, however, and we’re expecting another night of really low temperatures,” Hudson said. “It’s critical that we continue conserving electricity until producers can get the gas flowing again as temperatures begin to rise.”

In earlier announcements and interviews, senior media representative Wes Reeves said that Xcel, other electrical power utilities and several electricity cooperatives in 17 Central and Western states all belong to the Southwest Power Pool, which determines electrical system imbalances and makes decisions about controlled power outages.

According to Reeves, the extremely low temperatures are causing problems with natural gas production in wellfields and with pipeline transmission, which impacts power generation stations that use natural gas to produce electricity.

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