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Evergy: Rolling power outages suspended for now; SPP lifts order

Northland power outage alters vote processing
Posted at 6:34 AM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 14:24:41-05

1 p.m. | Good news: As of 12:30 p.m. today, the energy alert level has been reduced to Level 1. Electrical conservation is still encouraged.

10:50 a.m. | Evergy said that at 10:15 a.m., the Southwest Power Pool lifted its order calling for temporary power reductions. Intermittent outages have been suspended for now, Evergy said.

Evergy said that power should be returning shortly for those customers who were affected by the rolling outages.

9:18 a.m. | Independence is conducting rolling power outages for 5,000 to 6,000 customers at a time that will last 20-30 minutes.

9:11 a.m. | Evergy provided an update on rolling power outages at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Officials said rolling outages are affecting roughly 100,000 customers at a time and are they are targeting 30-minute outages but they could last as long as 60 or 90 minutes.

Outages began at 7 a.m. and Evergy expects peak energy demand between 9 and 10 a.m., so officials are hopeful rolling outages could end after that.

The Southwest Power Pool has had power plants in Iowa and Oklahoma go out of operation overnight.

The pool is experiencing transmission congestion, which is essentially a traffic jam in the power grid. Part of the congestion is in Evergy's service area due to areas in the South needing energy from the North.

Demand for energy is higher Tuesday than it was Monday, prompting the need for larger outages.

UPDATE, 8:50 a.m. | Rolling power outages have been reported across the metro this morning, lasting anywhere from 30-60 minutes.

The outages can affect stoplights, in which case motorists are asked to treat the intersections as a four-way stop.

EARLIER | More rolling power outages are possible across Kansas City and the Midwest due to heavy usage of the power grid due to the extreme cold.

The outages are most likely to happen between 8 and 10:30 a.m. if they do occur, according to Evergy. That is because of the time of day people wake up and begin to use more power.

Evergy officials held a briefing Tuesday morning to give an update on energy conservation efforts and received the alert of the possibility for outages during the update.

Evergy is part of the Southwest Power Pool, which stretches from North Dakota to the Texas panhandle and touches 17 states.

Other local energy providers are also part of the pool, meaning not just Evergy customers are affected.

Because extreme cold is hitting that entire area, the power pool is seeing record-high demand and is concerned about the ability to distribute power throughout the entire grid.

In an effort to make sure there are not any longer, uncontrolled power outages, members of the power pool are asked to put in place temporary emergency outages to save up energy.

For the first time in history, the Southwest Power Pool issued an "Emergency Alert 3" Monday, which eventually prompted rolling emergency outages across their entire service area to conserve energy and keep the grid online.

That emergency status was issued again Tuesday around 6:30 a.m.

Evergy said that at no time in the last day did they have a time where they did not have enough power to meet the demand of its customer base. The rolling outages were determined by the power pool and the need to balance energy demands for the entire region.

Officials explained that all forms of energy that they use to generate power are affected by the extreme cold.

Coal is stored outside and gets moisture in it, so it produces less energy when burned. Trains, truck and pipelines work slower to transfer fuel in the cold. Wind turbines freeze up and go offline. Power plant water intakes and cooling systems freeze up. And finally, diesel and hydraulics used in every system experience more problems in the cold.

Both the Southwest Power Pool and Evergy set records for demand on Tuesday during the extreme cold.

Evergy said that less than 2% of its customers were affected by the outage. That equated to 34,000 customers in Missouri and 18,000 customers in Kansas. No one was affected for more than 30 minutes, and the outages were only in place from around 12:15 p.m. to 1:25 p.m.

Many customers were upset with the lack of warning about the outages.

Evergy said they received notice from the power pool about the outages around 12:15 p.m. and had roughly 10 minutes to decide where to cut power that would keep the grid balanced and be able to meet the energy conservation demand.

Officials said the company sent over 1 million emails, communicated on social media and restricted their website to only outage information.

To avoid more outages in the Southwest Power Pool, people should not use any unnecessary electrical devices as they get up and get moving for the day.

Officials recommend turning thermostats down and keeping blinds and curtains closed.

The longer it is cold, the higher the strain on the power grid, according to Evergy.