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Rolling blackouts unlikely Wednesday for Moorhead Public Service customers

However, utility says outages remain possible due to ongoing cold in parts of U.S.

A Moorhead power substation is seen on Tuesday, Feb. 16, a day where some power customers in North Dakota and Minnesota are experiencing rolling blackouts. Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum

MOORHEAD — While rolling blackouts remain a possibility due to heightened power demand across the central U.S., Moorhead Public Service said outages like those its customers experienced Tuesday, Feb. 16, are unlikely to happen Wednesday.

MPS General Manager Travis Schmidt said in a statement released about noon Wednesday that MPS has been monitoring the ongoing Southwest Power Pool Energy Emergency Alert situation and will continue to do so for at least the next 48 hours.

Southwest Power Pool is an electric grid operator serving 14 central U.S. states, including North Dakota, South Dakota and the western edge of Minnesota.

On Tuesday, it went in and out of Energy Emergency Alert Level 3 in response to unprecedented strains on the regional grid prompted by the frigid weather in southern states.

At EEA Level 3, SPP may call on utilities under its purview to initiate rolling blackouts and for a short time Tuesday morning MPS instituted blackouts affecting about 9,800 customers.


Schmidt said Wednesday morning that through Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning SPP was at an EEA Level 2.

He said if the situation reaches Level 3, MPS will be required to resume rolling blackouts, though he added that based on information from SPP and the Western Area Power Administration there was a low probability of entering EEA Level 3 on Wednesday.

"However, staff wanted to make you aware of MPS’ situation today due to the extreme weather conditions in the SPP footprint and the possibility, even if it is low, of more rolling blackouts," Schmidt said.

He stressed that MPS will provide as much advanced notice as possible before commencing rolling blackouts in Moorhead if they become necessary.

He said if MPS restarts rolling blackouts, the first area affected will be in the Red Zone, seen in the red zone of the map below, and then alternate to the Blue Zone, see attached map, every other 30 minutes until MPS is allowed to go back to normal operations by SPP and WAPA.

Red zone map for rolling blackouts
This map shows the Red Zone for rolling blackouts in Moorhead. Special to The Forum


Blue zone map for rolling blackouts
This map shows the "Blue zone" for rolling blackouts in Moorhead.

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com.
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