AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Wind chills as low as -30°F on Thursday and into Friday mean energy demand on the High Plains will increase substantially but Xcel Energy and Atmos Energy say they are prepared.
Wes Reeves, a spokesman for Xcel Energy, said while they expect plenty of cold and wind, they do not expect much precipitation.
“That’s a plus for us because wind combined with ice and snow can sometimes be a real headache,” Reeves said. “So we’re really watching that wind more than anything else.”
During last year’s deep freeze, Xcel’s power plants held up to demand, despite a few rolling blackouts.
“The only issue we had at that time was our supply of gas, natural gas coming to our power plants,” he continued. “But our power plants were designed for cold weather. They’re designed to withstand subzero temperatures.”
Reeves said every year, Xcel goes through a checklist, making sure everything is ready for the cold. He said they are prepared to meet demand now.
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“In terms of the grid, the lines themselves, there’s been a lot of investment in new poles and new wire across the region. So the more that we get, the more the grid can withstand high winds,” Reeves added. “And so that doesn’t mean we would never have an outage related to wind, but the hope is that not as many of them if the weather gets really bad, and we’re also able to restore power quickly.”
Reeves also reminds customers that most of the Texas Panhandle and South Plains are on a separate grid from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas grid.
“When they say there’s problems on the Texas grid, they’re usually meaning the ERCOT region, so don’t be panicked if you hear something about that and it’s not necessarily us,” said Reeves. “Now we are affected by the same conditions often, you know, high winds and cold temperatures, but we feel like we’re in a really good position in this region to handle winter weather because we’re used to it.”
Michael Gonzales, Atmos Energy‘s manager of public affairs, said on Tuesday they are also ready for the cold.
“It’s kind of a normal routine for us, making sure that you know, we have all of our resources on hand and available, you know, in case a situation comes up,” said Gonzales. “And we’re not anticipating anything like that, but we’re always ready to make sure that we adjust our workload.”
Gonzales also said there are several money-saving tips available on their website, as well as precautions for customers to take when warming their homes or using other natural gas appliances.
“We are ready and just want people to know the information. You know, just have a plan, just anticipating the cold weather and, you know, we want people to be safe. We want people to stay warm and we want people to enjoy the holidays.”