UPDATED 7:23 a.m.:
The Southwest Power Pool, Tuesday morning, has reinstated Energy Emergency Alert Level 3. Rolling blackouts have already started for some Lyon County customers.
The original order had been issued Monday afternoon, which was then rescinded Monday evening. The order requires the SPP's member companies — including all energy companies in Kansas — to prepare to implement "controlled interruptions of service."
The SPP, which balances electricity production and use for a 14-state region including Kansas, had declared an Energy Emergency Alert Level 3, Monday afternoon.
While blackouts have been halted for now, there is still a chance the Level 3 alert could be reinstated, with rolling blackouts expected through Tuesday.
Kansas electric cooperatives and other electricity providers, including Evergy, will be preparing to implement controlled service interruptions if the SPP deems it necessary to safeguard continued reliability of the regional grid.
While rolling blackouts are no longer occurring, power outages due to extreme weather conditions can still happen.
WARMING STATIONS AVAILABLE
Lyon County Emergency Manager Jarrod Fell said warming stations have been set up for the City of Emporia at White Auditorium, 111 E. 6th Ave., from 5 p.m. Monday evening to 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Those entering the warming station should enter from the 6th Avenue entrance on the north side of the building. There will be no services provided at this location — it is a warming station only.
The Emporia Recreation Center will be open and offering its facility as a warming station from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Tuesday - Friday, if they are not impacted by power outages.
"The periods of interruption will likely be a small number of hours, but with temperatures at the lows they are it won’t take long for people to get cold," Fell said in an email. "Lyon County Emergency Management recommends that all residents prepare for these controlled outages, although it is unknown if our community will be impacted."
Fell said sealing gaps in windows and doors can help with keeping cold air out. He recommended gathering blankets and developing a plan to stay warm for a few hours if necessary.
"We caution all residents NOT to utilize a heat source indoors that is fueled by gasoline, diesel, propane and butane fuel," he said. "These fuel sources produce carbon monoxide and are unsafe to be used indoors. Other alternative heat sources may be unsafe as well. Use caution when considering these alternate methods of heating."
Fell said those with emergency generators should pay attention to the exhaust to ensure it was not entering your homes.
He said to leave sufficient space between alternative heating devices and combustible material to prevent fires from occurring and to avoid using stovetop gas burners to supply heat.
"We recommend that you develop a plan and stay home if possible," Fell stressed. "Road conditions are unfavorable at this time and the temperatures are bitter cold. Alternative plans may include driving to a neighbor’s home that may have heat.
"Lyon County has warming shelter plans in place, if prolonged power outages occur, we will notify the public of warming shelter operations and locations."
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 Kansas Corporation Commission said Kansas residents can conserve energy by turning down thermostats and not using high energy-consuming appliances, such as clothes washers and dryers, ovens and dishwashers, beginning now and continuing through mid-week.
Other ways Kansans can do their part to help conserve electricity include:
- Turn down thermostats to 68 degrees if your health permits.
- Check and change furnace filters if needed to ensure optimum airflow. Rule of thumb: change filter every 3 months; 2 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 your energy bill. 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.
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.