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Rolling Electricity Outages Affect Some Eastern Montanans

Power lines next to the Laramie River Station coal-fired power plant in Wheatland, Wyo.
Power lines next to the Laramie River Station coal-fired power plant in Wheatland, Wyo.

Several electric cooperatives in Eastern Montana have been instructed to urge customers to conserve electricity as persistent frigid weather in the midsection of the United States threatens a system-wide outage.

McCone Electric Co-op based in Circle and NorVal Electric Cooperative, Inc. based in Glasgow say customers experienced outages ranging from 15 to 30 minutes Tuesday to maintain regional grid stability.

The blackouts were ordered by regional transmission organization Southwest Power Pool, which declared its highest energy emergency alert Tuesday morning and asked utilities to briefly interrupt electric service to customers across 14 states. Within hours, SPP reported the system had stabilized, though interruptions could happen over the next two days.

Lower Yellowstone Rural Electric Co-operative in Sidney and Sheridan Electric Co-op, Inc. in Medicine Lake are asking customers to minimize electricity usage, especially during hours of peak demand between 6:00 to 9:00 A.M. Wednesday morning.

Lower Yellowstone Rural Electric recommends turning thermostats to 68 degrees to reduce electric heat demand; avoid using large appliances like washing machines, dryers and ovens; and unplugging non-essential lights and appliances.

Meanwhile a spokesperson for NorthWestern Energy says Montana customers are not part of the rolling blackouts, but the company’s South Dakota customers may experience power outages.

Read more from NPR.