TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Kansas governor is asking Kansans Monday afternoon to conserve electricity and natural gas as the state faces more possible blackouts during extreme winter weather.
The update comes after the governor declared a state of emergency over the weather, and Evergy began rolling blackouts through Kansas due to cold weather strain on the regional power grid. The governor was joined by Maj. Gen. David Weishaar, Adjutant General and Director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, and Kansas Corporation Commission Chairman Andrew French.
Weishaar said that the state is coordinating with various areas to provide warming centers in case they are needed with power and gas shortages during the cold stretch. Weishaar did warn to keep coronavirus precautions in mind if people use the warming centers.
French added on that conditions like freezing fog are affecting electricity generators like wind turbines. Coal plants are also suffering issues like freezing coal stacks due to the extreme cold, and natural gas plants are competing with scarce natural gas supplies.
French said Texas is experiencing blackouts alongside Kansas, and gave details on Monday’s controlled outages.
“This will be affecting every utility in every state in this region,” French said. “It lasted for about an hour or an hour-and-a-half… It was coordinated by geographic area.”
The chairman also advised Kansans to cut back on natural gas and electricity, as there is a possibility there will be more blackouts tonight and tomorrow morning.
“We have seen unprecedented demand for electricity, especially at this time of year,” French said. “To the extent folks can conserve safely, we would certainly encourage them to try to cut back on that usage of natural gas and electricity over the next 48 to 72 hours… There is still a possibility as we move forward in the coming hours, into the evening hours where demand is high, and tomorrow morning where demand will be very high… There is a chance that there could be more rolling blackouts at this time.”
With electricity providers facing generating issues from the cold, supply currently can’t keep up with demand from energy users. French and the KCC plan to investigate how to strengthen the power grid to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
Gov. Laura Kelly said even as more blackouts loom, hospitals that depend on electricity to power cold storage for coronavirus vaccines should have backup generators to keep them safe.