OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The cold is taking its toll on power and gas companies and it could mean outages for customers of both services.
“We are trying to limit the time that customers are without power due to the extreme cold,” said Brian Alford of OG&E
OG&E’S first-ever rolling blackout happened Monday after the Southwest Power Pool, which includes Oklahoma, issued a level three emergency alert. Officials later shifted back to level two, leading OG&E to cancel blackouts for now, but warning they could happen again in the next few days. Each blackout could last up to two hours at a time.
And electricity is not the only resource in question.
Oklahoma also faces a natural gas shortage.
“We could see widespread outages across our service territory,” said Kent Shortridge of ONG.
Frozen well heads are a big reason why.
Complicating things, renewable options like wind turbines have been down for days following last week’s bitter cold. The issues are forcing utility companies to use more gas to make electricity.
“What we’ve got is a perfect storm,” said Matt Skinner of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
To prevent outages, Oklahomans are asked to reduce energy use.
Turn thermostats down to at least 68, unplug unused electronics, seal doors and windows, and avoid using major appliances.
“Just think about, ‘Do I really need to use this particular appliance right now?'” said Skinner.
The reported shortage has raised questions.
One KFOR viewer saying – “We’ve literally drilled ourself (sic) into a natural gas glut, how can there be a shortage we have more natural gas in Oklahoma than fresh water.”
But that’s apparently not the case anymore, according to Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony.
“The crisis situation facing Oklahoma involves electricity and natural gas and production of gas,” said Anthony.
He says large oil and gas companies pushed for production restrictions last summer. The goal — to raise natural gas prices. He says that move has now put Oklahoma in a bind with short supply during a historically cold winter.
As for what that means for your pocketbook.
“We just don’t know how this is going to translate down to you and I, on our gas bill,” said Skinner.
Within the last few hours, Corporation Commissioners held an emergency vote, and temporarily loosened those production restrictions. We’re told that should make for more natural gas supply.