BREAKING: Extreme cold weather has led to regionwide electricity use that exceeds available generation across the SPP service territory. SPP declared an EEA Level 3 at 10:08 a.m. CT on Feb. 15, signaling that its operating reserves are below the required minimum.
At 7:22 a.m. central Monday, Feb. 15, the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), which balances electricity production and use for a 14-state region including Kansas, declared an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) Level 2. This Level 2 declaration requires the SPP to direct its member companies to issue public conservation appeals. Kansas electric cooperatives are asking their members to conserve energy wherever possible to avoid a potential Level 3 declaration, which would force the SPP to implement controlled service interruptions, also called “brownouts.” If this happens, utilities will responsibly implement temporary interruptions of service to certain customers, either residential or commercial, 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 a 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.”
Kansans 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.