February 15, 2021 - As temperatures remain below freezing and the demand for gas and electricity rise, many Nebraska utilities are experiencing rolling blackouts. But because Fremont has its own coal-fired generating stations, Fremont’s power is expected to remain steady.
The power situation in the state as well as in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) region is a serious situation. Record-breaking temperatures, higher than expected demand for power, and very little wind-powered electricity forced SPP to declare an Emergency Alert Level 3. The highest level of alert that SPP can issue. This level of alert requires interconnected electric utilities in the SPP footprint to conduct rolling blackouts.
Although Fremont is interconnected with the SPP electric grid, we can produce enough power with our own coal-fired power plants to avoid having to do rolling blackouts. Fremont’s only concern is that there are no contingencies available to Fremont from SPP, should something cause our plants to trip off line.
SPP declared an Emergency Alert Level 3 across their region for several reasons. First, Northern Natural Gas is experiencing major constraints on their natural gas pipeline system, which in turn affects natural gas-fired power plants. Second, the wind is not blowing, so wind turbines are not producing electricity. Today, thirty percent of the SPP electric mix is wind-powered electric generation.
This is not to say that Fremont is in the clear and operating without risk. Operating without contingencies is fraught with risk, but it is fair to say that Fremont is in much better shape than many other utilities across the state. Again, Fremont is doing everything we can to keep the power flowing and provide power without rolling blackouts.