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Energy Emergency Declarations Issued, NIPCO Service Territory Affected

  • Posted: 02.16.2021

Due to unprecedented electric load demand in the central US, the Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative (NIPCO) service territory is being impacted by energy emergency declarations by its regional transmission operator Southwest Power Pool. As energy conditions adjust, NIPCO, along with our primary power providers, Basin Electric Power Cooperative and Western Area Power Administration, will continue to monitor and respond to serve our western Iowa communities safely and reliably. This page will serve as a resource for information and the latest updates impacting NIPCO's 10-county service territory in western Iowa.

Why is the NIPCO System Being Affected?

Many electric utilities across the country, including NIPCO, are members of one of nine regional transmission organizations (RTO) or independent system operators (ISO), also referred to as power pools. These federally regulated entities work on a regional scale to coordinate, control and monitor supply and demand on the electric grid. RTOs do not own the power grid, but they do work as “air-traffic controllers” of the grid to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure and competitive wholesale electricity prices on behalf of their members. Most Iowa electric utilities are members of one of two RTOs: the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO). NIPCO is a transmission owner in SPP.

SPP issued unprecedented Emergency Energy Alerts (EEA) Level 3 to its member utilities on Monday and Tuesday, calling for high levels of electric load reduction/curtailment to match available supply. With the extremely frigid weather that has impacted large regions of the nation over several days, electric demand (mostly due to electric heat) has reached historic highs. To put it simply, there is not enough available generation/supply to meet this high electric demand.

Utilities that are members of the Southwest Power Pool, including local electric distribution cooperatives served by Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative (NIPCO) and our neighboring generation and transmission cooperative Corn Belt Power, must shed specific amounts of electric load at specific times to maintain a safe and functional electric grid. RTOs have authority to manage the supply on behalf of their member utilities in order to properly manage supply and demand on a regional level. The SPP rotating outages that are affecting some Iowans are part of a larger electric load management effort that is impacting several states in the Midwest.

As of 11:30AM on Tuesday, February 16, there are no rural electric cooperative member-consumers without power, related to load curtailment efforts.

SPP is directing its member utilities to shed electric load in a controlled process as part of its EEA Level 3 order. SPP is doing this in order to prevent a damaging system-wide blackout which would take days to restore. EEA Level 3 orders are very rare and are only implemented when absolutely necessary.

The rotating outages member-consumers may experience are intended to last for a duration of 45-60 minutes. These outages will occur with very little warning as SPP manages electric supply and demand minute-by-minute in real time. Local electric cooperatives have just minutes to shed specific electric load levels as they comply with Level 3 orders. When possible, electric utilities work to avoid interrupting service to critical facilities.

Consumers everywhere can help by decreasing their energy use during these extreme circumstances. Set thermostats to 65 degrees or lower if possible. Stagger appliance use. Avoid or limit hot water use. Use smaller appliances to cook food. If electric outages occur as part of a rotating outage, power should be restored within an hour. Follow your distribution co-op on Facebook, or via their website or call the distribution co-op, directly, to verify that the outage is related to load shed or curtailment efforts.

What do the Energy Emergency Declaration Levels mean?

During this energy event, Energy Emergency Declaration Levels can oscillate from one level to the next, depending upon consumer demand for energy. Here is a quick reference (Source: Southwest Power Pool):

Graphic Images describing energy emergency alert declaration levels

Energy Emergency Alert 0 (EEA 0)

All available resources are committed and the SPP BA is concerned about sustaining Contingency Reserves

Actions:

  • Issue a Maximum Emergency Generation Notification
  • Curtail non-firm energy sales
  • Identify generation outages that can be postponed
  • Identify transmission outages that can be recalled
  • Utilize maximum Emergency Operating Limits of Resources

Energy Emergency Alert 2 (EEA 2)

No longer capable of providing expected energy requirements, but still able to maintain Contingency Reserves

Actions:

  • Postpose generation outages identified in EEA1
  • Recall transmission outages identified in EEA1 that adversely impact the situation
  • Call on the neighbors for assistance, utilizing seams agreements and emergency assistance agreements
  • Prepare for and initiate non-firm load curtailment

Energy Emergency Alert 3 (EEA 3)

Energy deficient and unable to meet minimum Contingency Reserve Requirements

Actions:

  • Issue Operating Instructions to Participants to shed firm load as needed

Southwest Power Power Pool Emergency Alert Declaration Notification

Currently, the Energy Emergency Alert Declaration is at: LEVEL 0

MEDIA CONTACT:

Angela Catton, Manager of Member Relations And Development (NIPCO)

Office Phone: 712-546-3505
Cell: 712-301-8545

NIPCO PRESS RELEASE (February 18, 2021 - 10:46AM)

NIPCO SYSTEM CONTINUES NORMAL OPERATION

(Le Mars, Iowa) At 9:30am today, Southwest Power Pool (SPP), NIPCO's transmission operative, downgraded their Energy Emergency Alert to Level 0 (Zero). Level 0 is conservative operations. SPP will remain at EEA-0 until 10:00pm on Saturday, February 20th.

NIPCO does not anticipate any additional load shedding events from this prolonged cold weather event.

The events of this week were unprecedented as extreme and prolonged arctic weather significantly impacted the regional transmission organization's (RTO) 14-state footprint. Regional power supply events such as these impacted our operations, however, NIPCO was able to fully comply with all curtailment requests and directives from SPP through normal operations of our load management program, Switch Makes Cents.

Switch Makes Cents allows member-consumers in NIPCO's service territory that are served by our seven member distribution cooperatives to opt-in to load management, which provides a rate incentive for allowing strategic interruption of electric service to qualifying electric equipment during periods of high demand. At no time during this week were any member-consumers in western Iowa without power, related to load curtailment efforts.

NIPCO collaborated with its member cooperatives as well as state and regional partners to react and respond to the ever-changing EEA alerts impacting western Iowa. In addition, NIPCO continues to encourage electric consumers to practice energy conservation measures such as turning down thermostats, covering drafty windows, avoiding use of large appliances like clothes washers, dryers, and ovens especially during times of peak demand such as early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

As we emerge from this week and begin to experience decreased strain on the system due to warming temps and more moderate weather forecasts, it is anticipated that there will be less demand from generation resources. As conditions can change, NIPCO will continue to update this page with any related information.

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NIPCO PRESS RELEASE (February 17, 2021 - 11:00PM)

NIPCO SYSTEM CONTINUES NORMAL OPERATION

(Le Mars, Iowa) Effective at 10:59 p.m. Central time on Feb. 17, SPP has declared an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) Level 1 for its entire 14-state balancing authority area. Generation is currently sufficient to serve system-wide demand across the region and to fully satisfy operating reserve requirements.

We continue to urge all homes and businesses throughout our 14-state region to conserve electricity, but have not been directed to initiate load curtailment at this time.

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NIPCO PRESS RELEASE (February 17, 2021 - 7:55PMPM)

NIPCO SYSTEM CONTINUES NORMAL OPERATION

(Le Mars, Iowa) At 6:20PM, Southwest Power Pool (SPP) declared an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) Level 2. This declaration was an upgrade in severity from its previous EEA 1.

NIPCO is operating under normal conditions and has not been directed to curtail any load as of the release of this statement.

NIPCO and its seven member distribution cooperatives continue to promote the message of conserving power and will do so for the remainder of the week. NIPCO anticipates this event will conclude by the end of the day on Thursday, February 18, 2021.

Continue to check back to this dedicated page for updates to NIPCO's operational status.

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NIPCO PRESS RELEASE (February 17, 2021 - 3:25PM)

NIPCO SYSTEM CONTINUES NORMAL OPERATION

(Le Mars, Iowa) At 1:15PM this afternoon, Southwest Power Pool (SPP) declared an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) Level 1 for its entire 14-state balancing authority area. This declaration was a reduction in severity from its previous EEA 2, which was in effect since last night (2/16) at 6:28pm.

NIPCO and its seven member distribution cooperatives continue to promote the message of conserving power and will do so for the remainder of the week. NIPCO anticipates this event will conclude by the end of the day on Thursday, February 18, 2021. Another winter storm is ongoing in the southern Plains today however, the extreme weather is forecasted to get better after Thursday.

Continue to check back to this dedicated page for updates to NIPCO's operational status.

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NIPCO PRESS RELEASE (February 17, 2021 - 9:30AM)

NIPCO SYSTEM OPERATING AS NORMAL

(Le Mars, Iowa) Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative continues normal operations and is, currently, not initiating any curtailment measures.

Due to unprecedented electric load demand in the central US, Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative (NIPCO) is working with its regional transmission operator, Southwest Power Pool (SPP), to shed load in its western Iowa service territory.

SPP issued unprecedented Emergency Energy Alerts (EEA) to its member utilities on Monday and Tuesday, calling for high levels of electric load reduction/curtailment to match available supply. With the extremely frigid weather that has impacted large regions of the nation over several days, electric demand (mostly due to electric heat) has reached historic highs. To put it simply, there was not enough available generation/supply to meet this high electric demand.

Utilities that are members of the Southwest Power Pool, including local electric distribution cooperatives served by NIPCO, were being requested (and in some cases, directed) to shed specific amounts of electric load at specific times to maintain a safe and functional electric grid. With the exception of a one hour time period (approximately 9:30AM-10:30AM on Tuesday, February 16 when NIPCO was directed to curtail an additional 20 megawatts (MW) of load in which NIPCO controlled electric heat to Switch Makes Cents participants), ALL of NIPCO’s load curtailment efforts were accomplished through its normal load management operations.

RTOs have authority to manage the supply on behalf of their member utilities in order to properly manage supply and demand on a regional level. The SPP rotating outages that are affecting some Iowans are part of a larger electric load management effort that is impacting several states in the Midwest.

This situation remains fluid and NIPCO expects there could be possible curtailment directives today (2/17) thru tomorrow (2/18).

For additional updates, check back to this website. It will be updated regularly.

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NIPCO PRESS RELEASE (February 16, 2021 - 7:29PM)

NIPCO SYSTEM CONTINUES WITH NORMAL OPERATION

(Le Mars, Iowa) As NIPCO's transmission operator, Southwest Power Pool (SPP), upgraded to a Level 2 Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) at 6:28PM, NIPCO is maintaining normal operations and continues to encourage energy conservation practices among its rural electric cooperative member-consumers in western Iowa.

An EEA Level 2 requires SPP to direct its member companies to issue public conservation appeals. The alert will remain in effect until further notice. Currently, SPP has enough generating capacity online to meet system-wide demand, but this step is being taken to mitigate the risk of outages.

This situation will remain fluid for the next 24-48 hours, until the weather conditions improve in the central United States. Please continue to check back to this page for further updates.

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Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives Press Release (issued 02/16/2021)

The Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives (IAEC) issued this news release on Tuesday evening, February 16, 2021. It provides added insight to the highly unusual control measures that were needed to protect the supply and demand balance of the electric grid as electric demand exceeded available supply because of extremely cold weather impacting the region over several days.

NIPCO PRESS RELEASE (February 16, 2021 - 1:55PM)

NIPCO SYSTEM RESUMES NORMAL ACTIVITY

(Le Mars, Iowa) Due to unprecedented electric load demand in the central US, Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative (NIPCO) is working with its regional transmission operator, Southwest Power Pool (SPP), to shed load in its western Iowa service territory.

At 12:31PM, SPP downgraded its Emergency Energy Alerts (EEA) to Level 1 to its member utilities. This means all available resources have been committed to meet obligations, and SPP remains at risk of not meeting required operating reserves. With the extremely frigid weather that has impacted large regions of the nation over several days, electric demand (mostly due to electric heat) has reached historic highs.

NIPCO has resumed normal operations and has not initiated load control measures to shed load throughout its system, at this time.

While this ever-changing energy emergency alert situation is expected to continue through Thursday, NIPCO will work closely with its primary power providers, Basin Electric Power Cooperative and Western Area Power Administration, to monitor and respond to serve our western Iowa communities safely and reliably.

NIPCO and its seven western Iowa member distribution cooperatives continue to urge all electric consumers to practice energy conservation measures in the critical hours ahead to mitigate the risk of unplanned power outages. Turn down heat, refrain from or delay use of large appliances, and turn off any unnecessary lights. All electric cooperative consumers in our region, including those in central and western Iowa, are affected by Energy Emergency Alert Declarations.

To stay on top of this event as well as NIPCO’s current status during this time, please refer back to this page as it will be updated, regularly.

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NIPCO PRESS RELEASE (February 16, 2021 - 11:09AM)

(Le Mars, Iowa) Due to unprecedented electric load demand in the central US, Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative (NIPCO) is working with its regional transmission operator, Southwest Power Pool (SPP), to mitigate widespread power outages by practicing normal load management operations and encouraging member-consumer energy conservation efforts. The current Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) declaration is at Level 3. This means that the regional transmission system is energy deficient and unable to meet minimum Contingency Reserve Requirements. SPP has been working with its member utilities to curtail electric service levels.

In the morning hours of February 16, NIPCO initiated its normal load control operations via its system-wide load management program. Member-consumers of rural electric cooperatives with equipment connected to load control switches may experience intermittent power interruption for a few hours, as outlined in the program. During periods of high energy demand, rural electric cooperative consumers who opt-in to the load management program agree to connect qualifying equipment to switches which allow the unit operation to be cycled on and off for a specific period of time. The load control operations initiated by NIPCO this morning voluntarily shed approximately 29 megawatts (MW) of electric load by interrupting operations to water heaters, generators, and electric heat. As of 10:33AM, the NIPCO load control operation have ceased.

There are no rural electric cooperative member-consumers without power related to energy curtailment efforts at the release of this statement.

This situation continues to evolve. As energy conditions adjust, NIPCO, along with our primary power providers, Basin Electric Power Cooperative and Western Area Power Administration, will continue to monitor and respond to serve our western Iowa communities safely and reliably. For up-to-date information regarding this energy emergency event, please continue to check back to this page or follow us on Facebook.

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NIPCO PRESS RELEASE (February 16, 2021 - 10:17AM)

(Le Mars, Iowa) Due to unprecedented electric load demand in the central US, Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative (NIPCO) is working with its regional transmission operator, Southwest Power Pool (SPP), to shed load in its western Iowa service territory. Member-consumers of rural electric cooperatives with equipment connected to load control switches may experience intermittent power interruption to equipment connected to load control switches operated by NIPCO’s load management system.

NIPCO’s Touchstone Energy® member distribution cooperatives who implement NIPCO’s load management program, known as Switch Makes Cents, include Harrison County Rural Electric Cooperative (REC) headquartered in Woodbine, Iowa; North West REC headquartered in Orange City, Iowa, Nishnabotna Valley REC, headquartered in Harlan, Iowa; WIPCO, headquartered in Denison, Iowa; Woodbury County REC, headquartered in Moville, Iowa; and members served by Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative who live in Cherokee County in Iowa. NIPCO’s member cooperative, WIMECA (Western Iowa Municipal Electric Cooperative Association), which is a cooperative of municipal utilities serving the communities of Anthon, Aurelia, Hinton, Manning, Mapleton, and Onawa also implement the Switch Makes Cents load management program.

In the morning of February 16, NIPCO initiated its normal load control operations via its system-wide load management program. Member-consumers of rural electric cooperatives with equipment connected to load control switches may experience intermittent power interruption for a few hours, as outlined in the program. During periods of high energy demand, rural electric cooperative consumers who opt-in to the load management program agree to connect qualifying equipment to switches which allow the unit operation to be cycled on and off for a specific period of time. The load control operations initiated by NIPCO this morning voluntarily shed approximately15 megawatts (MW) of electric load by interrupting operations to water heaters and generators. In situations where demand is reaching critical levels, electric heat control will add another 14MW of load shed.

NIPCO urges all electric consumers to practice energy conservation measures in the critical hours ahead to mitigate the risk of unplanned power outages during this unprecedented time of increased demand due to widespread, extreme, and prolonged arctic weather conditions. Turn down your heat, refrain from or delay use of large appliances, and turn off any unnecessary lights. All electric cooperative consumers in our region, including those in central and western Iowa, are affected by Energy Emergency Alert Declarations. As energy conditions adjust, NIPCO, along with our primary power providers, Basin Electric Power Cooperative and Western Area Power Administration, will continue to monitor and respond to serve our western Iowa communities safely and reliably.

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NIPCO PRESS RELEASE - 9:10am

(Le Mars, Iowa) Due to unprecedented electric load demand in the central US, Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative (NIPCO) is working with its regional transmission operator, Southwest Power Pool (SPP), to shed load in its western Iowa service territory. As of mid-morning, today, there are no rural electric cooperative members in the NIPCO system without power due to energy curtailment efforts directed by SPP.

At 5:01AM, NIPCO initiated its normal load control operations via its system-wide load management program. Member-consumers of rural electric cooperatives with equipment connected to load control switches may experience intermittent power interruption for a few hours, as outlined in the program. During periods of high energy demand, rural electric cooperative consumers who opt-in to the load management program agree to connect qualifying equipment to switches which allow the unit operation to be cycled on and off for a specific period of time. The load control operations initiated by NIPCO this morning voluntarily shed approximately 14-15 megawatts (MW) of electric load by interrupting operations to water heaters and generators.

NIPCO’s Touchstone Energy® member distribution cooperatives who implement NIPCO’s load management program, known as Switch Makes Cents, include Harrison County Rural Electric Cooperative (REC) headquartered in Woodbine, Iowa; North West REC headquartered in Orange City, Iowa, Nishnabotna Valley REC, headquartered in Harlan, Iowa; WIPCO, headquartered in Denison, Iowa; Woodbury County REC, headquartered in Moville, Iowa; and members served by Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative who live in Cherokee County in Iowa. NIPCO’s member cooperative, WIMECA (Western Iowa Municipal Electric Cooperative Association), which is a cooperative of municipal utilities serving the communities of Anthon, Aurelia, Hinton, Manning, Mapleton, and Onawa also implement the Switch Makes Cents load management program.

In addition to controlled power interruptions to shed load via the load management program, NIPCO urges all electric consumers to voluntarily practice energy conservation measures in the critical hours ahead to help mitigate the risk of unplanned power outages during this historic time of increased demand due to widespread, extreme, and prolonged arctic weather conditions. Turn down your heat, refrain from or delay use of large appliances, and turn off any unnecessary lights. All electric cooperative consumers in our region, including those in central and western Iowa, are affected by Energy Emergency Alert Declarations. As energy conditions adjust, NIPCO, along with our primary power providers Basin Electric Power Cooperative and Western Area Power Administration, will continue to monitor and respond to serve our western Iowa communities safely and reliably.

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