Information on Unplanned Outages - Week of February 15, 2021

Inside the Grid Podcast:

Widespread extreme cold temperatures led to historic levels of energy demand on the U.S. power grid this week resulting in unplanned power outages for thousands throughout the central portion of the country, including approximately 7,000 Sioux Valley Energy members. As you can imagine, Sioux Valley Energy has gotten a lot of questions about the outages. In an effort to answer some of those questions and explain in greater detail what happened, Sioux Valley Energy’s Jay Buchholz sat down with Sioux Valley Energy CEO/GM, Tim McCarthy and East River Electric CEO/GM, Tom Boyko to discuss the week’s events. East River Electric Power Cooperative is one of Sioux Valley Energy’s power suppliers. The podcast runs about 16 minutes, providing a thorough overview of this week’s unplanned power outages that occurred throughout the entire central section of the United States.  Click here to listen to SVE CEO/GM Tim McCarthy and East River Electric CEO/GM Tom Boyko



Open Letter to SVE members - Feb. 16, 2021

Sioux Valley Members,

I wanted to take a moment to reach out to all of you during this crucial time. This morning we all woke and started our day as we normally would. We turned on lights, we started our kitchen appliance, and called on our hot water heaters for warm showers and possibly a load of laundry. Businesses began to open as they normally would and factories started their operations. This activity was replicated by nearly every household and business in the central part of our nation. All of this creates a tremendous amount of load on the national power grid. A grid that can normally accommodate all of this is now taxed to its limit as frigid temperatures have stretched to areas not usually impacted by such weather patterns. This has caused an unprecedented demand on our power grid and quite bluntly, it has created the most precarious power situation I have seen in 33 years in this industry.

Our members are upset. Rightfully so! It is dangerously cold in our region at the moment and to go without power for any length of time is more than an inconvenience. However, what I need to convey to all of our members is the consequences of not taking these actions this morning. The power grid is a remarkable machine that operates under set engineering guidelines that protect it from physics. The system, while strong, must operate within strict parameters. When a situation arises in which the grid is pressed beyond those operating parameters, that once strong system quickly becomes very delicate. Simply put, the system starts to implode and it will shut down in very damaging fashion. When this happens it can cause a cascading effect that will produce outages across the entire power grid. At that point, those outages will not be of a short duration. Those outages will be days on end as equipment is fixed and then the grid is slowly brought back on line and synchronized to the proper operating parameters before it can be used again.

I understand our members wanting notice, it is a reasonable request. However, in this case today, our system operators are doing what they have to do to literally save the power grid in the central portion of this country. When demand suddenly spikes due to consumer activity or abrupt loss of a generating source that can drop huge amounts of supply in the blink of an eye, there is no time to inform. They must act and act very quickly. This is what we are seeing today. Make no mistake, this is an emergency situation and our system operators are invoking all means necessary right now to protect all of us from an electrical transmission catastrophe that could literally cost lives when compounded by the weather conditions we currently face. They are working very closely with the Southwest Power Pool and the Northern American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to resolve this situation.

My vow to you is we will do everything we can to keep you informed. We will give notice when we can. However, the truth is, that may not be possible. While I know many of you are upset this morning, this will pale in comparison to what we will face if we do not take decisive and swift action to maintain the integrity of our power grid and work through this situation until we stabilize it across the central portion of our country.

Demand is expected to remain high through Thursday, leading to the possibility of additional outages. We will diligently monitor this situation and keep you as informed as possible.

Tim McCarthy, Sioux Valley Energy GM/CEO