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Customers Of ILEC & Area Municipal Utilities Who Receive Electricity From Cornbelt Power Being Told To Prepare For Periodic Power Outages

Mon 2-15-2021

(Estherville)-- Customers of atleast one area utility are being told to expect periodic power outages. Rick Oleson, General Manager of Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative, says their main transmission provider, Southwestern Power Pool, or SPP, has declared a level three state of emergency. He says they're having difficulty keeping up with the demand for power due to the extreme cold and lack of generation from wind turbines. Oleson says as a result ILEC is currently undergoing rolling blackouts...Power Interruptions01 

"This is my 40th year in this business and I've never had to do this before but they are starting to take substations, we have about 47 substation regions across eight counties in our region here in our service area and they started with our Ayrshire sub and will take one substation area off line at a time and for 45 minutes each. They're again having a real challenge here with the extreme loads on the system and limited generation due to almost no wind generation being available so their trying to match, we're a just in time business. We have to match exactly generation with load and so they're trying to match the available generation resource that we have with the loads that are on the system."

Oleson says ILEC has no control over the matter...Power Interruptions02 

"We have no opportunity to intervene here and the interruptions are taking place on the transmission system through remote switches. So they'll open a switch that serves a substation area and it's Iowa Lakes and the other Cornbelt systems right now, and so I know I've gotten contacts from some of the other member system managers as well that, again, we are trying to communicate with our members through press releases, Facebook, our website, but we are given very little to no notice when they're going to interrupt substations or which ones."

Oleson says the situation is likely to continue into Tuesday. He apologizes for the inconvenience it's causing their customers.

The situation is also impacting area communities that get their power from Cornbelt Cooperative. Many of those cities, including Estherville, Spencer and Milford, are currently operating their backup generators.