Omaha businesses, residents cope with cold power outages

The blackouts are an inconvenience for OPPD residential customers but for business owners, a brief shutdown means a loss of money.
Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 5:45 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The recent cold snap temporarily shut down power to about 72,000 OPPD customers. Officials believe the rolling blackouts are done for the day but it will be the weather that determines if they’re over.

There was no power when Hawaii Nails opened its doors this morning around 10.

“Usually, we get a bunch of phone calls right when we open. People are going to schedule for the day and with the phone line being down, most likely several missed calls where those customers are probably getting their nails done somewhere else right now. I’m not disgruntled but it did affect me yes,” said Craig Foster from Hawaii Nails.

The owners here say they understand why the rolling blackouts are necessary but say they were blindsided by the shutdown that lasted about 40 minutes.

Dunkin Donuts near 108th and Fort lost power for about a half-hour today, giving the staff time to do some extra cleaning.

“People were still trying to come in so it didn’t affect that but we did have to shut down for a little bit and people were pretty nice about it,” said Madison Bright.

OPPD officials say warmer weather in the Omaha-metro doesn’t guarantee the end of rolling blackouts.

“We’re dealing with such a big footprint. 17 states and so depending on what other areas are experiencing which may be more extreme than what we’re experiencing. We could see different types of results,” said Jodi Baker from OPPD.

Officials say they know the temporary power outages made things uncomfortable in many neighborhoods. They tried to keep the shut off times to about an hour.

OPPD is a part of the Southwest Power Pool, a group of states that run from Minnesota to Texas. Lately, most of that territory is locked in the arctic cold.

The group has ordered a temporary power shutdown to prevent the grid from overloading.

“The Southwest Power Pool will direct us to curtail a certain amount of power depending on the needs of the entire system and sometimes we won’t have much notice at all it might be just a few minutes. We’d love to give the most notice possible especially now with cold weather and with kids home during remote learning with a lot of people doing remote work. It’s a tough situation and we know that,” said Baker.

Officials say they don’t plan to shutdown customers’ power again unless temperatures call for more rolling blackouts and if they have to, they won’t be as widespread.

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