Remembering winter in the summer


Summer has hit us in the noggin like a one-inch hail stone, with weather in or near triple digits in much of Basin Electric’s service area. And with stifling temperatures often comes severe storms, which we are made aware of through the series of high-pitched beeps and scrolling alerts that interrupt our TV shows and music on the radio. With these tones and subsequent computer-generated voices, the National Weather Service has conditioned us to know what to do with the information these alerts provide.

Though it seems like forever, it was just a few short months ago when we learned about similar notifications Southwest Power Pool (SPP) uses for energy emergencies like the winter weather event that stretched from North Dakota to Texas in mid-February. The alerts, which prior to the week of Feb. 14 had only been issued once and never progressed beyond the initial level of severity, were followed by controlled interruptions of electric service in SPP’s 14-state service area. These controlled interruptions were implemented to protect the electric grid from collapse.

This was a big deal. SPP has been coordinating energy services since 1941 and had never before called for service interruptions. As a result of the February event, Basin Electric has been participating in ongoing meetings with its transmission operator, Western Area Power Administration; SPP; member cooperatives, and other agencies to talk through the lessons that have been learned and discuss ways to ensure long-term reliability.

Read more about SPP’s energy emergency alerts and learn the answers of some frequently asked questions about the February event in Alerts, watches, and warnings: How we are notified of potential and impending energy emergencies, one of the featured stories in the spring issue of Basin Today. This issue is solely dedicated to February’s energy emergency.

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