At 10 a.m on Tuesday, 290 customers of Northern Prairie Electrical Cooperative were without power as part of a rolling blackout to conserve energy on the power grid, according to the cooperative's website. They were the last group of outages that had started across the region hours earlier.
"It (the rolling blackouts) started at the northern tier of our system and worked its way south," said Seth Syverson, general manager for Northern Plains Electrical Cooperative.
The power outages also affected customers of Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative in Milnor, Edgeley, Forman, Oakes, LaMoure, Fullerton, Cogswell, Dickey and Ludden Tuesday morning.
Power was out for most customers for about 45 minutes with some in the Jamestown area experiencing longer outages.
The rolling blackouts are blamed on extreme cold over a large portion of the United States causing increases in demand for electric power. Syverson said the rolling outages could continue until the weather warms in Texas and other regions of the southwestern U.S. decreasing the demands on electrical systems there.
Syverson said the outages were controlled by the Western Area Power Administration which was working with other regional power suppliers.
"We should be good for now," he said at about noon Tuesday. "We're unsure if it will continue this evening or tomorrow morning."
Teresa Waugh, chief public affairs officer for WAPA, said "unprecedented and extreme cold" led WAPA to ask its utility customers to reduce electric demand on the system.
"We are asking our utility customers to be prepared to continue this through Thursday," she said.
Power outages, if they occur, are anticipated to last between 45 minutes and one hour. Syverson said Northern Plains would notify people of when to expect outages through its website and social media. The public should call Northern Plains at 800-882-2500 only if the outage lasts longer than an hour.
Residents are also being encouraged to conserve power by the North Dakota Public Service Commission. The PSC in a press release warned residents the rolling blackouts could continue for "a couple of days."
The PSC asked residents to do the following to conserve electricity during the cold snap.
- Turn down your thermostat as low as tolerable – 65 degrees or lower if possible. Turn off electric heat in your garage or shop if you can (do not turn off if there are water lines present).
- Turn things off: Make sure lights are turned off when leaving a room and only use lights when needed. Switch off televisions, computers, video game consoles and cable boxes when not in use.
- Don’t run appliances, such as dishwashers and clothes washers/dryers. Clothes dryers are one of the biggest energy users in the home.
- Turn down the temperature on your electric hot water heater.
- Those who have alternative heating fuels, such as wood fireplaces, should consider using them to reduce electric or natural gas heating.
- Open curtains to let in sunlight during the day.
- Set ceiling fans to turn clockwise to push warm air down.
- Use low-temperature cooking methods and if using the oven, only open the door when necessary.
Otter Tail Power Co., the electrical provider in the city of Jamestown, announced Tuesday morning it was not planning any outages, according to information posted on the company's website.
"But we encourage you to be prepared in case of an emergency," it said in a press release posted to its site.