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The Head Of A Local Rural Electric Cooperative Says The Rolling Blackouts They Were Forced To Implement Earlier This Week Was Truly Historical

Fri 2-19-2021

(Estherville)-- The head of a local rural electric cooperative says the situation earlier this week when they were forced to implement rolling blackouts was truly historical. Rick Olesen of Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative tells KUOO news it was the first time in the 80 year history of the Southwest Power Pool that that's happened...Olesen Update01 

"We had to interrupt about five megawatts on Monday and much more severe situation on Tuesday morning with extreme cold weather we had to interrupt 24 megawatts on our Corn Belt part of our system and then Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative on the west side of our system had to interrupt 20 megawatts of load. That, again, had not occurred in the whole 80 year history of the Southwest Power Pool, which is the regional transmission organization for our area, but here we had that happen in two days."

Olesen says the extreme weather forced several sources of traditional power generation off line. He says things have since returned to normal, with most of that generation once again up and running. He says the emergency declarations have been lifted as of now...Olesen Update02 

"There's still a lot cold temperatures down in the southern part of the United States that can impact the situation but right now we have plenty of resource to serve our load. And Steve, I've really got to compliment and thank our member owners, especially our commercial and industrial members who voluntarily reduced a significant amount of load starting Sunday afternoon when we first became aware of the emergency status. And I know it was not an easy week for our members unexpectedly being having your power go off Monday morning and Tuesday morning, but again they worked cooperatively with us very diligently and I can't thank them enough."

Olesen says he's hopeful the situation is drawing some very needed attention to the nation's fragile power grid...Olesen Update03 

"We're a distribution cooperative so we need energy to come into our substations before we can deliver it to homes and businesses across the seven and-a-half county area we serve. We've taken some things for granted in this country probably and I think, you know, there's always takeaways from every crisis and this one there will be some negatives but there will also be some positives. I think that will review how different resources are accredited and especially with respect to reserves, how those are accredited and then have a consistent application of those rules across the country. I think it will be a good thing."

Olesen says thanks to the efforts of Corn Belt Power as well as several other utilities across the SPP footprint, the electric grid experienced only minor levels of service disruption.