Since the onset of bad winter weather across much of the nation including Southern states there have been many electrical outages and rolling blackouts. If you know someone who has been affected by this, then you know this is no joke.
Many of these affected areas have had not had electricity since last Saturday or Sunday with temperatures dipping into the single digits. Their electricity did not come back on until Wednesday or Thursday in some cases. Many people got very cold and they had no water. This went on for days. This is what happens when the electrical grid cannot keep up with the demand. According to USA Today it is multiple factors that have caused the outages and rolling blackouts. Unprecedented demand is the first factor followed by ongoing severe winter weather causing shortages of natural gas that is used to make electricity etc. And it is common for some power plants to be shut down during winter months for maintenance because the high demand for energy in the South occurs during the summer months. Texas needs to winterize their energy grid to help minimize the chances of this happening again. It appears they did not take action after the last time this happened back in 2011.
To help better understand the situation that occurred in Texas let’s think about how we would feel if it happened here in the Fergus Falls lakes area. If we lost electricity for a few days when temperatures are in the low 30s what would happen? I can tell you that the room temperature in our homes would dip into the 30 or 40s, which would be dangerous if not corrected quickly. As an example, the building that houses the Daily Journal office at 125 N. Union Ave. (the old library) has two boilers and one broke down two weeks ago. As a result with only one boiler operating the temperature in our building dropped to 59 degrees in our office and went down to 45 degrees in the front two businesses. It was miserable as everything we touched was cold. We just couldn’t warm up and work comfortably. Luckily the boiler was fixed and operational by the next morning. Now try to imagine those poor folks in Texas where the electricity was off for more than 72 hours in most cases. Many of them did not have water as the water plants were shut down due to lack of power to operate them. According to foxnews.com, some people died trying to keep warm by sitting in their car while it was in the garage and appears one person froze to death in their recliner.
Thankfully, this did not happen here due to Otter Tail Power and Lake Region Electric Coop keeping the lights on for us. We are lucky to have fantastic reliable energy providers.
Ken Harty is the publisher of The Fergus Falls Daily Journal.