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Southwest Power Pool upping its 'planning reserve margin' requirement

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One of the two regional electric transmission organizations that serve North Dakota has voted to increase its "planning reserve margin" requirement from 12 percent to 15 percent, effective next summer.

The Southwest Power Pool is doing that to prevent blackouts during times of high power demand – such as during a cold winter or a hot summer.

"We're getting too much of a risk of curtailments to put it off any longer," said North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Randy Christmann, the president of SPP"s Regional Sttae Committee.

Christmann said this is becoming a critical issue.

"Especially when I think of the amount of people who work from home, instead of a large office setting, where in may cases, they have back-up generation," Christmann said. "But now that they're at home, curtailment means their production stops. That's not good for the economy."

Christmann said it's even more important for people who receive home health care.

"A whole lot of those people are vulnerable, and can't go long periods of time without air conditioning or heat," Christmann said. "Some of them, even short-term, if they're on oxygen of things like that. They're no longer in institutions with back-up generation."

Basin Electric Power Cooperative is a member of SPP.

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