Weather forecasts continue to affect power distribution
Photo Credit: 
JJ Francais
A truck plows and salts a section of state Highway 49 in the Medicine Park area.
A truck plows and salts a section of state Highway 49 in the Medicine Park area.

Elgin residents who live west of I-44 in the Porter Hill area were part of 1,507 Public Service Company of Oklahoma customers who lost power Tuesday due to a planned outage — the term used to describe what is commonly called a “rolling blackout.”

PSO External Affairs Manager Tim Hushbeck said the Porter Hill outage was due to end at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, but that some customers would be without power longer as PSO crews worked to turn the power back on to Porter Hill area customers.

“This is the first one we have had in the Elgin area,” Hushbeck said. “They generally last an hour but we say two hours because sometimes when we go to turn these feeders back on there is so much load on them you have to do some additional work to bring them back up.”

Elgin, Fletcher and Sterling were spared from Monday’s round of planned outages, which largely focused on the Lawton area in southwest Oklahoma. But Hushbeck said developments overnight in the central part of Southwest Power Pool’s coverage area caused demand to spike throughout the grid, which resulted in SPP issuing a new round of orders to reduce consumption by utility providers. Hushbeck said PSO was initially told to reduce consumption by hundreds of megawatts, but that number was reduced as dawn arrived.

“(SPP) called us back and went back to 98 megawatts, and that’s what we’re trying to reduce,” Hushbeck said.

Hushbeck said all PSO service areas are now “on the table” when it comes to reducing power consumption as needed. The Porter Hill planned outage reflects PSO’s desire to “share the burden” by spreading the outages across their service area so no one region or area is hit harder than others. He said PSO officials are trying to get their customers through the next two days of cold weather to reach warmer weather.

“Getting to Thursday and Friday as temperatures start to rise will take us out of the danger zone,” Hushbeck said. “But hopefully it’ll be well before that.”

Cotton Electric Cooperative Spokesperson Karen Kaley said the cooperative currently has a total of 24 customers without power. Those are smaller, individual outages that have something to do with their location.

Kaley said load management outages (planned outages) are “suspended at the moment,” but that such outages could continue through Thursday.

Kaley said Cotton Electric’s supplier, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, was asked to reduce consumption by 130 megawatts. WFEC automatically determines which service areas within its territory are selected for planned outages, Kaley said. Cotton Electric and other cooperatives have no control over which of their customers may lose power due to a planned outage.

Weather forecasts may continue to affect power distribution

National Weather Service Meteorologist Jennifer Thompson said Tuesday that temperatures forecast for the Elgin area will remain below freezing through Friday.

“The storm system we’re anticipating to move through the area this afternoon should be gone by tomorrow evening,” Thompson said. “Temperatures may be a bit tricky though because the snowpack could affect the temperatures.

“Thursday’s forecast high for the Elgin area is 26 degrees, which is still below freezing. Lows are still going to be pretty cold. We have lows going from 11 degrees Wednesday morning to about 5 degrees on Friday morning.”

Thompson said high temperatures currently forecast for the Elgin area will not rise above freezing until at least Saturday when the high temperature is forecast to be 39 degrees. Temperatures are expected to rise into the 50s for Sunday and Monday.