Vidalia communities could lose power as temperatures drop

Published 10:06 am Wednesday, January 17, 2018

VIDALIA — Energy providers in Louisiana are operating at maximum power right now, and if that load does not lighten soon, some communities’ energy could be shut off.

Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft said he received a call from the Louisiana Energy and Power Authority, who was informed by  Midcontinent Independent System Operator that the high energy load could lead to the need to cut power to some residents.

Mark Brown, communications advisor at MISO, said conditions are improving and the burden on energy companies should lighten soon. The maximum energy event is in affect, he said, until 2 p.m. today.

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“As the region’s grid operator, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator is managing heavy energy demands Wednesday morning due to the frigid temperatures that have encased the South region particularly,” Brown said. ” If necessary and in extreme conditions, MISO per its procedures may exercise temporary load shed to preserve the stability of the region’s power grid. At this time, conditions have not reached that point in the region and are improving.”

Brown said MISO South, which based in Little Rock, must manage challenges created both by generation outages as well as dropping temperatures.

The threat of a loss of energy comes as temperatures in Vidalia dip into the low teens and ice coats many roads in the city and parish.

In the case of a shutoff, Craft said residents would receive only a 15-minute warning before the power is removed.

“Basically communities’ power would go off,” Craft said. “I’m not saying it’s going to happen, it’s just a precaution. We’re just trying to let people know.”

Craft said in the event of a shutdown or if there are residents who are currently without heating, the Vidalia Conference and Convention Center is open as a shelter.

“We have the resources to transport if necessary,” Craft said.

Many people who are elderly or shut-in have called, Craft said, to get on the list of transports to the convention center in the event of an energy shutdown.

Part of the strain on the electric system, Craft said, is due to an inoperative power plant in the state, which is currently incapable of producing energy to alleviate the state’s burden. Craft said he did not currently know the name of the power plant.

“If they have any more unable to generate,” Craft said, “that could be a problem.”

At current, Craft said the Vidalia hydroelectric plant is fully operational.