Colorado consumers urged to conserve power as outages hit nearby states

Xcel Energy Colorado is requesting that customers curtail power usage where they can as wide swaths of the heartland struggle with electricity shortages and in some cases, outages, after several days of abnormally cold temperatures.

“Any volunteer conservation by customers in these types of prolonged and widespread low temperatures is beneficial to the system as a whole. When one of our other utilities in the state issues a conservation message or reaches out for help, we do our best to support them and our Colorado system as much as possible,” said Michelle Aguayo, a spokeswoman for the state’s largest utility.

Texas has suffered widespread outages and the Southwest Power Pool, which manages the power grid across the Plains states, saw demand outstrip supply for the first time ever, forcing it to order rolling blackouts Monday morning. Colorado has largely been spared, although some customers in the northeast corner of the state fell under the SPP order.

Westminster-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association said seven of its member utilities, located primarily in Nebraska, fell under the SPP order. One megawatt of power was cut for under one hour in Wyoming, said spokesman Mark Stutz.

The SPP expects conditions to be touch and go through Thursday. Aguayo offered several conservation tips, including adjusting the thermostat a few degrees lower, opening drapes and blinds to maximize heat from the sun, and running ceiling fans in a clockwise direction to push warm air down from the ceiling.

Normally, shifting the use of energy-intensive appliances to the early morning and late evening hours also helps. But the SPP experienced a big surge in demand as people woke up from record cold temperatures, depleting its electricity reserves and triggering the emergency power cuts.

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