We experienced an influx of frigid weather in January. These temperatures can elevate Ohio’s risk for blackouts, and they led to a peak alert for our natural gas service. Please read through the information below to learn more about peak alerts, blackouts, and energy conservation.
Natural Gas – Peak Alert*
On January 13, our natural gas supplier issued “Transport Critical Days,” which means that all natural gas purchased during this time will cost more than usual. Transport Critical Days often occur during extreme cold snaps like this one, most recently during the arctic blast in December 2022.
As a not-for-profit cooperative, our rates reflect the costs we pay for the services we provide you. This means that we never charge extra to make profits, but it also means that when our costs increase, our members’ costs do too.
Help us keep costs down for all natural gas members by conserving during these Transport Critical Days. While conserving will not change the rates, it will help us purchase less natural gas while rates are high. The less we have to purchase during this time, the less impact it has on our members.
Our supplier estimates that Transport Critical Days will be in effect through the end of January. Due to our supplier’s timing, these increased Transport Critical Day costs will likely be reflected on your March natural gas bill. We will send another reminder closer to that time.
*Please note, this peak alert only impacts our natural gas service. This will not affect costs for our electric, propane, or fiber services.
Electric Grid Reliability
According to a November 2023 report from The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), Ohio and much of the eastern United States are at an elevated risk for energy emergencies and rolling blackouts during extreme temperatures this winter. As your cooperative, we are committed to providing you with safe, reliable and affordable energy. While we are doing everything we can to ensure that your lights stay on, there are some factors outside of our control.
As temperatures go down, energy use goes up, increasing the strain on the electric grid in our region. While Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives have more than enough energy to meet the growing needs of our members, we rely on the larger electric grid to deliver that energy to you. Check out our Energy Policy Resources to learn more about reliability and affordability concerns, and what we’re doing to advocate for you.
If Ohio co-ops have enough energy, why are we still at-risk for blackouts?
While we own and operate our local distribution lines, substations, and other equipment, the electric grid as a whole is managed on a regional level. Grid operators like PJM – the organization that coordinates the movement of electricity in Ohio and surrounding states – work to keep the grid safe, balanced, and reliable.
When demand for electric energy is too high – because demand is greater than the grid’s transmission abilities or because there is not enough energy available – grid operators can require utility providers like us to systematically cut power to prevent widespread, uncontrolled outages or full grid blackouts.
Rolling blackouts are a last resort that will only occur if absolutely necessary. However, we cannot control if or when they occur, and they may come with little or no warning. While electric co-ops across the nation are pushing for energy policy reform that helps make the grid more reliable, we have to be prepared for blackouts until that reform comes.
To help keep the power on for everyone, we may call on you to help us reduce demand and by conserving energy during extreme temperatures. During the winter, demand is typically highest in the early mornings when temperatures are low and families are up and getting ready for work or school. Here are a few simple steps you can take to make a big impact:
- Lower your thermostat by a few degrees while you are home.
- Unplug unused electronics and appliances.
- Avoid using major appliances like washers and dryers during times when demand is highest.
Even if blackouts were not a risk, it would still be important to conserve energy during extreme temperatures to help keep energy costs affordable. Learn more about high demand and its impact on costs here.
As stated earlier in this article, blackouts may occur with little to no warning. Please take steps now to ensure that you and your family are prepared if a winter outage occurs – whether it is caused by storm damage or a rolling blackout order.
Review the list below and check out our Winter Storm Preparation page for important safety information and more preparedness tips:
- Follow our Facebook page for timely updates on outages and major weather events.
- Make sure you are familiar with all of our outage reporting and tracking options.
- Make a plan with your doctor or pharmacist to make a plan for medical equipment or medications that require electricity.
- Maintain an emergency kit with necessary items like non-perishable food, water, flashlights, batteries, a first-aid kit, etc.