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The Antelope

The Antelope

Planned blackouts roll through towns in Kearney area

Snowy weather has prioritized snow removal on campus.

A record cold streak caused rolling blackouts in surrounding cities last week, forcing the Kearney area to conserve energy as a preventative measure. The advice from Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) enabled the community to avoid blackouts, though area towns were not so fortunate.

Prior to last week, UNK hadn’t dealt with potential blackouts in over 10 years.

The last time the Kearney area faced a major power shortage was during the ice storm of 2007, which limited Kearney power several days. On campus, power was maintained in occupied residence halls. Most other UNK buildings were only energized on a rotating basis to avoid freezing. At that time, classes were not disrupted because UNK was between semesters.

In some areas across Nebraska, this year’s cold has driven power demand beyond what the grid can provide, forcing NPPD to implement rolling blackouts.

According to NPPD, rotating outages are implemented when there is not enough generation in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) to cover the load, and it is necessary to immediately reduce demand on the electric grid. This type of load reduction is only used as an emergency last resort to preserve the reliability of the electric grid.

Blackouts may last approximately 45 to 60 minutes before power is restored and the outage is rolled to another load. NPPD advises preventative action be taken by all electric consumers.

UNK encouraged students to follow NPPD’s conservation requests. In such events, students can help by turning thermostats to 68 degrees or lower at night and close shades and blinds to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows and by turning off and unplugging non-essential lights, appliances, computers and printers when not in use.

For students walking to classes from off campus living quarters, coming home to no power may be problematic.

“My walk is no less than ten minutes on any given day,” said Cassie Sloan, a senior studying advertising and public relations. “With these record low temperatures, I could easily get frostbite within my walking distance.”

“UNK has back up power for life safety systems, emergency lights, fire alarms, IT servers, etc.,” said Lee McQueen, director of facilities management and planning. “Loss of all power is an infrequent occurrence.”

Although the outages had only a light impact on the Kearney area, nationwide solutions to the cold snap didn’t fare as well. Local compliance with NPPD guidelines prevented a similar situation from happening in Nebraska.

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