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PSC calls for a thorough review of 'rolling blackouts' in ND, tied to problems in Texas

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

Members of the North Dakota Public Service Commission are calling for a thorough review of what may have gone wrong, when some North Dakota co-ops and utilities lost power in “rolling blackouts” as electricity was diverted to Texas and some other states suffering from a major cold spell.

North Dakota is served by two operators of the power grid – the Southwest Power Pool and the Midwest Independent System Operator. Those operators are involved in power transmission.

SPP diverted power to Texas because of the cold weather that crippled power in that state. MISO did not.

Capital Electric Co-Op of Bismarck, Verendrye Electric Co-op of Minot, Cass County Electric Co-op of Fargo and some others did have brief power failures, as the rolling blackouts began. They complained that it was done with little or no notice.

"I think we have to call this for what it is," said Commissioner Brian Kroshus. "This has been a significant failure of the system, and those responsible for it. I don't think there's any way to sugar-coat it."

Commissioner Randy Christmann said when things settle down, there needs to be a good "forensic examination," to see where the system failed.

"There's potential for improvement all over," Christmann said.

Some utilities have alerted their customers that they could see rolling blackouts until Friday.

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