Briefs

Report: Oklahoma could lack power reliability if extreme winter weather hits 

By: - November 17, 2023 5:29 am

An OG&E truck is parked at a work site. Oklahoma could face power shortages in the event of extreme winter weather. (Photo by Kyle Phillips/For Oklahoma Voice)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahomans could face rolling blackouts if extreme weather rolls in this winter, a new report found.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s 2023 report listed Oklahoma and the central U.S. region’s power reliability at an elevated threat level if the extreme cold weather hits the region. NERC is a non-profit organization that assesses power reliability and develops standards for secure supply.

According to the report, planned, short blackouts may be necessary if wide portions of the region are hit with hard winter weather.

Oklahoma is part of the Southwest Power Pool, which oversees the power grid and wholesale power market in the central U.S. Reserves are lower in the power pool this winter than the last, according to the report. SPP did not return a request for comment.

Two Oklahoma power companies said they are preparing for the possibility of extreme weather this year.

Oklahoma Gas and Electric said in an email that it is aware customers expect reliability and the company is working to make sure supply is there when residents need it.

“Since Winter Storm Uri, OG&E has increased its fuel storage capacity and locked in a portion of fuel purchases to mitigate the impact of fuel price fluctuations to our customers,” said spokesperson Christi Woodworth.

OG&E has also winterized its power plants and continues to strengthen its power grid, Woodworth said.

The Public Service Company of Oklahoma supplies power in southwestern and much of eastern Oklahoma. Spokesperson Wayne Greene said in an email that the provider is focused on meeting the needs of their customers in all types of weather.

“We are constantly planning and taking action to prepare for a wide variety of challenges, including extreme weather,” he said.

Greene also said ahead of every winter season, the company makes “further investments” when necessary after it reviews the company’s equipment and procedures.

Oklahoma Natural Gas did not comment.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Midwest region, which includes Oklahoma, has an equal chance of above or below normal precipitation levels. The National Weather Center predicts near normal temperatures for much of the Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas area for the winter season.

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Mindy Ragan Wood
Mindy Ragan Wood

Mindy covers the legislature for Oklahoma Voice. Her areas of focus include infrastructure, municipal government policies, and human services with an emphasis on the needs of intellectually vulnerable and physically challenged adults.

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