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Power interruptions possible as Energy Emergency Alert goes to Level 3

Persistent and extreme cold weather has made temporary power interruptions a possibility in the area. The cold snap has led to region-wide electricity use that exceeds available generation across the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) service territory, which includes all electric providers in Kansas and western Missouri. At 10:08 a.m. central time on Monday, Feb. 15 the grid operator declared an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) Level 3, signaling that its operating reserves are below the required minimum. SPP has directed its member utilities to be prepared to implement controlled interruptions of service if necessary.power interruptions

What this means is that the providers can utilize “controlled service interruptions” – essentially rolling blackouts. If your county has a plan for an emergency warming shelter, you should be prepared to utilize that shelter. The periods of interruption will likely be a small number of hours, but with temperatures as low as they are it won’t take long for people to get cold.

“Controlled service interruptions are a last resort, and a step we take only when necessary to safeguard continued reliability of the regional grid,” said SPP’s executive vice president and chief operating officer Lanny Nickell.

If necessary, SPP will instruct members’ transmission system operators to reduce electricity demand by an amount needed to prevent further and uncontrolled power interruptions. Should that occur, individual utilities will determine how best to curtail their use by the required amount based on their own emergency operating plans.

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Evergy, the regional utility serving the Topeka area, announced it would begin turning off electricity to certain blocks of customers for periods of 30 to 60 minutes at a time, beginning Monday afternoon.

While SPP and member companies work to restore the regional power grid to full capacity, consumers are urged to reduce electricity and natural gas use, both at home and work, from Monday through Wednesday. Here are some specific actions customers can take to make a significant impact on electric and natural gas demand:

  • If your health permits, turn your furnace thermostat down 2 to 4 degrees.
  • Postpone using high-consumption appliances such as clothes dryers, ovens and dishwashers. Delaying laundry a day or two, or making microwave-friendly meals, and hand-washing dishes (if you have an electric water heater) would save significant amounts of electricity.
  • Turn off any lights and appliances that you do not need or are not using.

SPP declared a period of conservative operations at midnight central time on Feb. 9. Then, on Feb. 14, SPP declared an EEA Level 1 effective at 5:00 am central time on Monday, Feb. 15, and subsequently an EEA Level 2 at 7:22 am on Monday, February 15.

The declaration of conservative operations signaled to SPP’s member company utility operators that they should operate conservatively to mitigate the risk of worsening conditions. An EEA1 signals that SPP foresees or is experiencing conditions where all available resources are scheduled to meet firm load obligations and that we may be unable to sustain its required contingency reserves. An EEA Level 2 required SPP to direct its member companies to issue public conservation appeals.

Southwest Power Pool, Inc. is a regional transmission organization – a not-for-profit corporation mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure and competitive wholesale electricity prices on behalf of its members. SPP manages the electric grid across 17 central and western U.S. states.. The company’s headquarters are in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Visit SPP.org for details and updates.

–Lee Hartman | Metro Voice