Winter is here, and we prepared for the usual challenges of the season — frigid temperatures, snow, and ice. Every year, PPEC asks our members to also be prepared.
This year, our concerns go beyond the standard winter risks. This new threat is beyond our control. Electric consumers in our region now also face the possibility of outages caused by shortfalls in available electricity.
Around Christmas last year, bitter cold and extreme conditions during Winter Storm Elliott caused a spike in electricity demand that outstripped what was available in nearby states, and electric utilities were forced to shut down power to some residents to avert widespread uncontrolled outages. Indiana only narrowly avoided such rolling blackouts.
Industry experts now are warning that the Midwest and eastern U.S. are at risk for similar scenarios if severe weather strikes again this winter. In November, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, a not-for-profit international regulatory authority, released a report stating half of the eastern U.S., including Indiana, is at risk of blackouts this winter during extreme cold conditions.
The culprit? Government energy policy. The premature closing of reliable fossil-fuel power plants has narrowed the gap between the supply of available electricity and the ever-growing demand for power. When a winter storm drives even higher demand — and threatens supply at the same time — those charged with maintaining balance on the grid may require local utilities to reduce electricity use.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR OUR COOPERATIVE
PPEC and our electricity generation cooperative, Buckeye Power, will closely watch conditions and stay in constant contact with the regional authority that manages our portion of the electric grid. We have plans in place to clearly and quickly communicate with members if we expect an energy emergency is likely or imminent.
We’ll use all available communication channels to keep you updated and will alert you if energy conservation is urgent or forced outages are likely to occur.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU
In addition to the possibility of “normal” winter outages, there’s an increased chance that your electric service could be interrupted by rolling blackouts.
We all can take steps to reduce the likelihood of this happening:
- Conserve energy, particularly on the coldest days. This might mean delaying doing laundry or running the dishwasher until temperatures rise. You might throw on an extra clothing layer and lower your thermostat by a few degrees to stay comfortable while using less electricity.
- Pay attention to calls for conservation and make extra effort to reduce electricity use if an alert goes out that the grid is in danger from electricity shortfalls.
You can also be prepared for winter outages by:
- Ensuring the co-op has correct, current contact information for you. If the phone number or email on your account may be out of date, call the office.
- Connecting to the co-op through the SmartHub app and following us on social media. We’ll use these various channels to keep you informed about outages.
- Gathering supplies and having a plan to stay safe in case an outage occurs. Read more on page 6.
Your electric cooperative can’t control the weather, but rest assured that we’ll continue doing everything we can to provide you with reliable electric service, no matter what Mother Nature sends our way.