You want rare? This has been a week in February when it has actually been more comfortable living in Minnesota than Texas.
Citizens of the Lone Star State, some 1,500 miles south of the North Star State, have seen their power grid crippled by a winter storm - as devastating as it is rare.
Some 3.4 million power outages had taken place as of Wednesday in an area served by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Sub-zero temperatures forced people to endure emergency conditions in their homes and cars. Texans were also plagued by failing water systems, frozen water pipes and gasoline shortages.
Lake Region Electric in Pelican Rapids responded to rolling blackouts in parts of North Dakota and in Moorhead Wednesday announcing that the blackouts were being completed by utilities served by the Southwest Power Pool (SSP).
According to Lake Region Electric representatives, the SPP grid — which extends from Canada to Texas — asked all utilities in their market to complete rolling blackouts to reduce the demand on the grid.
“What they did was they selected parts of their service territory to do blackouts for 30 minute periods,” said Lake Region Electric vice president of business solutions Dylan Aafedt.
The reason LREC customers are not being affected by power outages, according to Aafedt, is that power grids in the northern United States are constructed with the sub-zero temperatures in mind. LREC buys its power from the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) regional transmission organization, which serves 15 states and the Canadian province of Manitoba.
“From my understanding they are seeing a demand on their electric grids they are not used to,” Aafedt said. “The bulk of Texans utilize electricity for their primary source of heat. When they all turn on the heat at the same time they are putting a strain on their grid that their grid is not built to handle. Up here we know we are going to get our cold temperatures. We built our grid to handle it.”
Lake Region serves 28,000 meters in Otter Tail, Clay, Wilkin, Becker, Douglas, Grant, Todd and Wadena counties.
Otter Tail Power Company, headquartered in Fergus Falls, serves more than 130,000 customers over approximately 70,000 square miles in parts of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota according to public relations director Stephanie Hoff.
“Ongoing cold temperatures in our region and throughout the nation are causing high demand for electricity. Some electric utility customers are experiencing rolling outages as a result,” said Hoff.
Otter Tail Power Company is a member of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) regional transmission organization. The independent nonprofit organization provides power across 15 U.S. states and the Canadian province of Manitoba. MISO has not been requesting planned rolling outages from its member utilities.