Approaching cold blast prompts electricity use cautions

The Coming Oklahoma Arctic Blast is Going to be a Big One


The approaching blast of extreme cold wintry weather has prompted several utility groups to issue warnings about the use of electricity.

The Southwest Power Pool, the regional transmission organization of which Oklahoma is a member said Thursday it was monitoring the impending  extreme cold weather events. In anticipation of the arctic weather pattern, SPP has already declared multiple advisories for energy operators within its service territory.

Minimum temperatures across the SPP RTO footprint may be similar to those observed during Winter Storm Elliot in December 2022. While there is still uncertainty with the storm system, SPP is projected to have sufficient capacity to meet anticipated energy demand.

High pressure building into the Plains behind the early week’s system may bring a sharp reduction in wind power generation, which would coincide with very cold air and high demand, creating a higher than normal risk of outages.

“We have substantial systems and procedures in place and our staff stands ready to mitigate any risks related to maintaining electric reliability,” said SPP Senior VP of Operations Bruce Rew. “While there is always some degree of uncertainty related to weather predictions, we anticipate enough generation to serve the energy demand of the SPP footprint throughout the storm period. We will continue to work closely with member entities to evaluate energy adequacy and ensure reliability amid demand projections.”

ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state’s electric grid operator issued a weather watch earlie in the week.

The state is facing an arctic front on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The weather pattern will drive temperatures well below average throughout Texas, but precipitation is not expected, said Mack Morris, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in New Braunfels. For that reason, it is not a winter storm.

Northern Texas will likely experience the coldest temperatures, including some potentially in the single digits in the Panhandle, but cold air “bottled up in northern Canada” will spill as far south as the border, Morris said. The Austin and San Antonio region will see lows below freezing on Monday and Tuesday.