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PM NewsBrief: Aug. 25, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Friday, August 25, 2023.

Record Electric Demand For Southwest Power Pool

The extreme heat wave in Oklahoma and surrounding states pushed electricity usage to record levels for the regional power grid.

Southwest Power Pool oversees the electric grid shared by Oklahoma and 14 other states in the central U.S. On Monday, it reported the highest electricity demand it’s ever seen.

That power use peaked around 4:30 p.m., as air conditioners strained to keep people cool during the hottest part of the day.

In response to the high demand, the power pool officials issued a Conservative Operations Advisory through Friday evening.

Carson Cunningham with OG&E says Oklahomans aren’t at risk of overburdening the grid at this time.

"It's important to note that there are no public calls for conservation at this time. Folks can go about their day. It's just they're continuing to monitor the situation," said Cunningham.

According to Cunningham, Oklahoma’s electric grid is built to weather these high temperatures. But he recommends using ceiling fans to take some strain off your AC and limiting high-energy appliance use during the hot afternoon hours.

State BOE Votes To Require Reports On Foreign Dollars, Student Pronoun Choice

The State Board of Education voted Thursday to require special reports from districts and non-profits.

The reviews focus on foreign dollars in schools and policies around student pronoun choice.

Oklahoma schools will now have to submit special reports that outline any funding from foreign entities directly or funneled through a nonprofit.

The move reflects State Superintendent Ryan Walters’ recent allegations that Tulsa Public Schools’ Booker T. Washington school is taking money from the Chinese government for its Confucius Classroom program for a Chinese language class.

The program is managed by the Chinese International Education Foundation, a non-government organization sponsored by the Chinese government’s ministry of education.

TPS officials deny the allegations, saying the money received for the program is from the International Leadership of Texas.

Districts will also have to submit special reports detailing policies, procedures and informal district guidance related to recognizing students’ preferred pronouns.

“We have seen this push to confuse and indoctrinate kids by doing this pronoun switching,” Walters said.

Both motions passed unanimously.

Bank Blacklist Won’t Apply To OPERS

The Oklahoma Public Employee Retirement System won't have to avoid a blacklist of six banks accused by the State of Oklahoma of boycotting oil and gas.

Trustee’s of the state’s employee retirement system voted this week to keep doing business with BlackRock, a massive firm that holds and invests billions of dollars in Oklahoma pension funds.

The nonprofit news outlet Oklahoma Watch reports it would have cost an estimated $10 million to divest from those funds.

There is an exemption in the blacklist law that allows government agencies not to divest if such a move will lose taxpayer money.

Because of that, the board ultimately decided to keep working with BlackRock despite its restricted status

Oklahoma is one of many GOP-led states that have passed blacklist laws to stop working with banks conservative advocates say are anti-energy industry.

OKC-Born Clouded Leopard Cub Moved To Nashville

A rare clouded leopard kitten was born at the Oklahoma City Zoo last month.

The zoo has high hopes for the cub, even with its move to a new home.

The zoo says this is the first birth of 2023 for the vulnerable clouded leopard. The male cub was born on July 18th with the help of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s clouded leopard species survival plan.

The cub is healthy and thriving, but is now at the Nashville Zoo, another AZA accredited facility, to one day participate in the survival plan for the leopard.

There, he will be hand raised and eventually paired with a mate.

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