Utility District to formulate emergency procedures

Mainland grid power worries had the commissioners of the Block Island Utility District mulling the need for disaster planning at their latest meeting on December 20. After attending a meeting on the mainland, Block Island Power Company President Jeffery Wright said that ISO New England, the operator of the regional power grid was warning of possible rolling blackouts for the “first time in my career of more than 30 years. The message was pretty scary.”The worry is a shortage of natural gas. When it is plentiful it is used to generate electricity, but when there is a shortage, the gas is “switched over” to provide for home heating, and electricity generation switches over to oil. “They have tanker ships in Boston with stored oil,” said Wright.An important factor in the equation is the weather. The colder the winter, the more the need, and when supplies are short, the grid, and individual utilities, implement a set of operating procedures with “OP7” being the most drastic. OP7 includes “load shedding,” a fancy term for rolling blackouts.“The good news,” said Wright, “is none of our load is going to be shed.” This is presumably because the amount the island draws from

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