GREG LOWER

Chanute customers may experience power outages during an energy emergency, officials said.

Southwest Power Pool, which operates the electrical grid, originally declared a Level 3 Energy Emergency Alert Monday morning, signaling that its operating reserves are below the required minimums. Evergy, a member of SPP, provides bulk power to Chanute. At mid-afternoon, the Southwest Power Pool said the energy alert was taken back to Level 2, reducing the need for rolling blackouts. But SPP officials asked consumers to continue to conserve electrical energy. 

Governor Laura Kelly issued a State of Disaster Emergency due to wind chill warnings and stress on utility and natural gas providers.  The state has experienced bitter winter temperatures and below zero wind chills for more than a week, which has put stress on utility and natural gas providers across the state. The declaration authorizes the use of state resources and personnel to assist with response and recovery operations in counties that meet certain criteria.

“As the extreme cold temperatures continue to affect the region, we are urging Kansans to conserve energy in order to help ensure a continued supply of natural gas and electricity and keep their own personal costs down,” Governor Kelly said.

SPP has directed its member utilities to be prepared to implement controlled interruptions of service, also called brownouts or rolling blackouts.

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 happen, individual utilities will determine how best to curtail their use to required amounts based on their own emergency operations plans.

Chanute officials said they will follow directives issued to Evergy from SPP about the energy alert. The city has not received any directives to institute electric curtailments at this time and staff is working with local businesses to voluntarily reduce energy consumption and demand.

Chanute administration and staff are working with SPP and Evergy to evaluate and coordinate any potential outages. 

Evergy officials said it may be forced into a “load shed scenario” to balance generation and load and maintain stability across the region. Not all Evergy customers will be affected at once, but on a rotational basis, with potential power outages for an hour or longer.

While SPP and member utilities work to restore the regional power grid to full capacity, officials urged consumers to reduce electricity use both at home and work.

“Controlled service interruptions are a last resort, and a step we take only when necessary to safeguard continued reliability of the regional grid,” 

Lanny Nickell, SPP’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, said.

Customers can keep these costs down by reducing their natural gas and electric usage at this critical time.

Here are some things each household can do to help in the conservation effort and slow down the increases in energy bills due to high usage:

• Keep warm, not hot. When possible wear additional layers of clothing, consider turning down your thermostat and check your programmable settings.

• Seal leaks around doors and windows. Apply weather stripping or caulk to seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors to stop air leaks and prevent energy loss. If that is not an option, you can also cover windows with towels, sheets or plastic to help keep the warm air in your house.

• Reduce the temperature on your water heater. Set the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or put it on the “warm” setting. If home will be vacant for two days or more, set the dial to the pilot position.

• Close blinds and curtains. This helps keep warm air inside, especially if the sun is not shining.

• Change or clean filters. A clean filter on your furnace can lower your energy consumption by 5 to 15 percent. Dirty filters cost more to use and overwork the equipment.

• Hold off on doing chores. Doing laundry and washing dishes can both use natural gas to heat the water and your dryer.

• Install foam gaskets on electrical switches and outlets. Electrical switches and outlets can account for up to 10 percent of your home’s energy loss.

 

 

 

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