Some energy companies have begun implementing rolling power outages in response to overwhelming demand for power during current record-setting low temperatures and wind chills. Some utilities said they were starting blackouts, while others urged customers to reduce power usage.
Evergy in eastern Kansas and western Missouri began 30 to 60-minute blackouts Monday shortly after noon.
The Southwest Power Pool, a group of utilities across 14 states, called for rolling outages because the supply of reserve energy had been exhausted. The SPP declared an Energy Emergency Alert Level 3 – which requires the SPP to direct its member companies to prepare to implement controlled interruptions of service if necessary.
Kansas electric cooperatives are asking their members to conserve energy wherever possible and safe to do so to prevent worsening system conditions that could impact a broader area or have longer-lasting effects.
“We are already seeing high electric use and are anticipating record-breaking demand in the next 24 to 48 hours,” said Lee Tafanelli, CEO of Kansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc.
The record-breaking cold is also putting a significant strain on natural gas supplies. The cold weather is freezing off natural gas production, making less gas available for delivery to customers.
“We are facing several critical days where both electric and natural gas supplies will be extremely tight,” Tafanelli said. “By reducing power usage where safely possible, we can help protect the integrity and reliability of the electric grid.”
The winter weather is affecting all of Kansas and several surrounding states, and Kansas electric cooperatives are monitoring conditions and staging personnel and resources so in the event there are power outages, restoration work can begin as quickly and safely as possible.
Kansans can conserve energy by turning down thermostats and not using high energy-consuming appliances, such as washers and dryers, ovens and dishwashers, beginning now and continuing through mid-week. Other recommended energy conservation efforts include:
- Turn down thermostats to 68 degrees if health permits.
- Check and change furnace filters if needed to ensure optimum airflow. Rule of thumb: change filter every three months; two months if you have pets or family members have allergies.
- Close furnace registers and doors to unoccupied rooms to keep occupied rooms warmer, which will help reduce consumption.
- Keep vents clear. High efficiency furnaces have vents leading outside. Make sure they are not blocked with ice or debris. Inside, make sure vents are not covered by rugs or furniture.
- Resist the urge to crank up the thermostat as it’s unlikely to make much of difference except to put a strain on the furnace and energy bills. Instead, wear an extra layer or use blankets to keep warm. Lowering the temperature just a couple of degrees will protect your furnace.
- Reprogram thermostat if it’s set to lower significantly at night or when no one is home. During extreme cold weather like we are experiencing now, the furnace will have a hard time raising the temperature to the desired level and it will use more energy to do so.
- Close blinds and curtains to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows.
- Turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances.
- Make microwave or toaster-oven friendly meals to save energy.
- Unplug electronics and other items not in use.
- Businesses should minimize use of lighting and electric-consuming equipment as much as possible.