We’re ready for winter’s extremes
Xcel Energy’s employees work every day to ensure that its energy services are affordable, reliable, safe and sustainable regardless of the weather. Winter’s temperature extremes can bring challenges for energy companies. That’s why the company coordinates with state regulators and other stakeholders to ensure that it and purchases enough electricity and natural gas to meet customers’ needs in all seasons.
“Xcel Energy has prepared for our winter electricity demands and has generation resources lined up to serve our customers reliably, and we always take every step possible to avoid or minimize any outages,” said Teresa Mogensen, senior vice president of Energy Supply. “We ensure our own diverse electric generation and transmission resources are performing at their best. We continuously monitor weather forecasts, electricity generation expectations, and other factors driving energy supply and demand.”
The company also expects to have natural gas supply to serve its customers this winter. “Our primary concern is the safety of our employees and customers during extremely cold weather events,” said Luke Litteken, senior vice president of Gas. “With this focus, we work to ensure our customers are comfortable during extremely cold weather events. We have completed dozens of natural gas distribution system reinforcement projects, prepared and tested our gas peaking facilities, and routinely check our critical assets to ensure they will perform when called upon. Additional personnel, supplies and support are staged and ready, should they be needed.”
The company works to help keep customers’ bills low. It purchases and stores a portion of its expected natural gas needs for the winter season, and contracts for wholesale natural gas purchases before winter arrives to mitigate the effects of possible natural gas price spikes. This allows Xcel Energy to lock in lower prices for customers. The wholesale cost of natural gas is passed along to customers without markup.
Months in advance of each season, it works with other energy companies on the regional grids to understand and prepare for seasonal electricity demands. This is important because an integrated power system allows electricity generated by all the entities to flow onto the shared power grid. The organizations managing the regional power grids constantly balance supply and demand across the larger region. A larger balancing region can help provide more options to meet customer needs and provide more reliable service, even when demand may vary across the region.
If Xcel Energy is required to reduce energy demand on its systems, it would first work with large commercial and industrial customers who are voluntarily on “interruptible” rates to cut back on their usage. On particularly cold days, it may ask customers to conserve energy by doing things like lowering their thermostats and using major appliances during off-peak times. This doesn’t just help lower gas and electric demand; it also helps customers manage their energy bills.
The company does not anticipate controlled outages for customers this winter, but in an emergency, a regional grid operator may call upon energy companies to reduce energy use on their systems and support reliability on the larger grid by initiating controlled outages. Controlled outages would only be used as a last resort to avoid widespread or prolonged outages.
Customers should be safe and comfortable in their homes during the extreme cold. At the same time, customers are encouraged to take advantage of ways to save energy and help lower their energy bills this winter.
By making some small changes in their energy routines, especially with higher wholesale natural gas prices affecting bills, customers can save money this winter and all year long while also helping protect the grid. Here are a few simple ideas:
- Turn the thermostat down a few degrees if possible.
- Wear layers of clothing and add an extra blanket to your bed.
- Avoid using major appliances between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.
- Turn off unnecessary lights and unplug unneeded appliances.
- Discover even more energy-saving tips on Xcel Energy’s website.
Commercial customers have many programs and rebates available, too.
Smart energy choices to keep bills low and the heat on