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KC metro controlled power outages part of 'emergency event'

Crossroads Power Outage
Posted at 10:27 PM, Feb 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 00:36:13-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When Missouri and Kansas power companies flipped the switch Monday for their rolling outages, it didn't matter who was affected.

"I was actually supposed to get my car serviced today and was going to drive in and they called and said, 'No, we're actually shut down because we lost power,' Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas said.

Elected officials and families alike were impacted across the Kansas City metro. April Fleming, who lives in the Western Hills neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri, was among the roughly 63,000 customers affected.

"We heard from our neighbors that our power had gone out," Fleming said, "and we have some pets inside and so we were concerned about that and then we got a call from our child's day care."

Around lunchtime, Evergy temporarily cut power to approximately 60,000 customers, Independence Power and Light to about 2,000 customers and the Board of Public Utilities turned off power to 1,200 customers.

"We have such cold temperature over such a widespread area, we've seen a lot of increased demand, limited supply of electricity," Gina Penzig, Evergy media relations manager, told 41 Action News. "So today, we did have to interrupt customers as part of an emergency event."

The interruption was done at the request of the Southwest Power Pool, a group that coordinates the power supply to 17 states, including Kansas and Missouri.

Lanny Nickell, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Southwest Power Pool, said during a video conference with the press on Monday afternoon that they had been expecting Monday's weather to be a "new winter peak."

"In fact, as late as yesterday, we were projecting to see about 45,000 megawatts of peak demand today," Nickell said.

At first, no one knew the outages were going to last between 30 minutes to an hour. And several residents took their frustrations to Lucas.

"They said they had a power outage, they called and couldn't get an answer to the utility. And then they also somehow, let's say, they had a phone; they could let them check online- the website was down," Lucas said.

Power companies said Monday there still is the possibility of more rolling outages in the coming days.

Residents like Fleming said a heads up would be nice.

"We have pets. We have an aquarium. We've got a young child at home, and it's below zero," Fleming said.

City leaders said they hope residents' frustrations following Monday's outages will result in improved communication strategies for the area's power companies.

"Sometimes you can't change the facts and the realities you're in," Lucas said, "but you sure as heck can change how people know what's going on. And I think that's what the people of Kansas City will want the most."