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Power outage, Southwestern Electric Power Company vergy provides updates to customers on rolling blackouts today

We knew that the there was going to be an extended time period of extreme cold temperature and power supply issues aside, that always pushes the electrical grid to the max, and so we started making preparations. Some of the things that we started to do include some of the following. We brought in extra staff across the entire company and went on an alert status ourself in many areas. We went to 24×7 operations, we staffed up our call center and our it staff and those those entities went to around the clock status, which is not normal operations uh for us in in normal times, uh. We also reduced all of the energy usage at our own facilities as a first step to lowering overall energy demand in our region. We stopped all non essential work across our system, meaning anything that was not necessary. We weren’t doing it and we were focused exclusively on keeping the grid running and keeping our power plants active and running. We knew we were going to need every single one of them to keep the lights on so to speak, and so we stopped anything proactive in terms of construction and then we went into cold weather operations at our power plants. What that essentially means is bringing on more personnel and getting them ready to to deal with some of the things that occur when extreme cold weather hits and i’ll talk about that a little bit more uh here in a little bit uh on sunday.

I think, as everybody probably recalls, we went out and asked um the region and the customers that we serve to start conserving electricity. That was again at the request of the southwest power pool that was starting to see loads and demand for electricity increase significantly, and so we made a public appeal on sunday to reduce energy usage and then i think, as everybody is aware, um you know monday. We got into a situation where, for the first time in its history, the southwest power pool called an energy emergency alert three, the highest level that they have and we were forced to take additional actions. And again, those are things uh that we will talk about here. In a little bit uh, i should also notice or mention that on um monday morning we also contacted a significant number of large industrial and commercial customers and in anticipation of grid issues, we asked them to reduce their power usage as well. So anytime, we get into a situation where we have extended cold weather or extreme temperatures of any kind. Our number one priority is to make sure that we have enough power supply to meet the demands of our customers. I want to state right up front and we’ll – probably repeat several times at no time during the last 24 hours or any part of this extreme cold weather system. Have we had a time in the energy service territory where we did not have enough power to meet the demands of our customers? Again, we have had enough generation at our nuclear coal, natural gas and wind facilities to meet the demands of our customers and so um.

It is, it is only in response to a 17 state region in the southwest power pool that we’ve taken some of the actions uh that we did when we have extreme cold weather like this, some of the things that uh happen at power plants uh bear noticing Uh or or talking about uh, one of which uh is that fuel becomes very difficult to get and becomes very difficult to actually use these extreme cold temperatures. For example, we have coal stored at all of our coal fire power plants, but it’s stored outside, and so when it rains or snows and then freezes moisture gets into the cold and it acts cold, and it actually makes that cold like concrete. So, in order to use it in order to burn it, we have to get uh men and women out on bulldozers. We have to break it up and then we have to load it in to the power plant in a way that’s much more manual than usual, and that takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of effort and then, ultimately, when the coal is burned, it doesn’t generate as much electricity as it normally would because of the moisture content and the temperature of the coal so that’s one example. We also have access to fuel issues, meaning trains and trucks that deliver fuel and pipelines become constrained and slower and again those are all things that we have been dealing with. However, none of that has interrupted operations or our ability to supply electricity.

We have actually made it through this time period, uh pretty pretty. Well all things considered, uh other things that occur. We’Ve had wind turbines because of the high content moisture in the air that have frozen up and are not able to turn so a significant amount of our wind supply over the last four or five days has been offline and not generating electricity. We also see water intakes and cooling systems necessary to keep power plants running uh that are freezing up and and have to be manually, have ice, broken off of them. That’S very labor intensive and sometimes results in breaking the very equipment you’re trying to keep running and, of course, all of our all of our equipment runs off of diesel or hydraulic kinds of mechanics. All of that, in these extreme temperatures, have higher failure rates and have uh issues that come up, so the men and women and our power plants have been working 24. 7. Now, for over a week dealing with some of these issues, i know that the media team has pictures out on social media and also other pictures available for those who want them. It’S really truly heroic work that these men and women are doing in absolutely extreme conditions and uh. We couldn’t be more thankful for their efforts again as a result of their efforts. At no time has ever g had a situation during this extreme cold, where we did not have enough power supply to meet demand.

So i think everybody is aware that not withstanding all of our preparations and notwithstanding um, the fact that we had enough power to meet our demand. We are part of a 17 state region called the southwest power pool. Those regional transmission authorities were established several decades ago. In order to provide greater reliability around the united states generally, it also gives us the opportunity to access the cheapest power possible for our customers. So we believe that regional transmission organizations are a good thing. Having said that, this 17 state region now controls the power flow in our service territory, as well as many other utilities, both in this region and in the other 16 17 states that i mentioned monday morning. The southwest power pool declared an energy emergency alert 3.. As i mentioned before, that is the first time that’s occurred in the southwest power pool’s history. When they made that initial declaration, it was because they were worried. They had dipped in to the reserves of their uh energy supply for the 17 state region and they were worried about uh grid stability and the ability to maintain service to all customers in those 17 states over the morning and early afternoon time. Yesterday, as a result and to and to give you some some context there, the southwest power pool set a new peak demand record yesterday for the winter time of 44 gigawatts. To put that in perspective for evergy, our peak demand yesterday was right around eight gigawatts, so the evergy and evergy’s customers accounted for about eight of 44 gigawatts, and we may very well have set a new winter peak for demand yesterday, as well when southwest power pool.

Originally declared the emergency energy or the energy emergency alert 3. We were not asked to do any temporary emergency power outages, but as the morning progressed and we got closer to noon, the southwest power pool was worried about overall grid reliability and they were worried about having enough supply to meet demand in the 17 state region. Uh that they comprise and as a result, at 12 15 yesterday, we got the command from southwest power pool uh to reduce our energy usage within the energy footprint. In other words, they were asking us to do temporary emergency power outages in order to reduce our demand. We were not the only utility that got that in fact, utilities in a 14 state area, including almost every utility uh in our region. Certainly all of them that are part of the southwest power pool were given that uh request yesterday, uh by the southwest power pool. So, at 12, 15 central time yesterday, in uh, just shortly after noon, evergy went into a couple a series of temporary emergency power outages. That means that just over 52 000 customers, that would be 34 000 customers in missouri and 18 000 customers in kansas were impacted by temporary emergency power, outages uh that lasted right around 30 minutes in duration, and then they were brought back on to uh. Their power was restored uh. The way that works is that we get very little notice both that we need to reduce demand, as well as how much demand we’re going to need to reduce so our dispatch team, the team running the grid uh, gets that information from southwest power pool assembles what We can to um to to meet the request by southwest power pool and then almost immediately goes into the temporary power outages in in our case yesterday, it was um about 10 minutes.

Warning is what we had between the time that we had. We got notice to the time that we had to start implementing uh power reductions, which meant again temporary emergency power outages for some of our customers. The temporary power outages lasted from about 12 15 to about 1 25 pm central time in the afternoon and to date. Since that time, we have not been requested by the southwest power pool to implement any more temporary emergency power outages. Now, a couple of things i think are worth uh noting on this again at no time did evergy not have enough supply to meet our demand for our customers. This was done at the request of the southwest power pool and it was done to maintain grid reliability. Essentially, from midwestern states up on the border with canada, the dakotas in minnesota all the way down to the panhandle of texas. So this was a decision they made, and it is done principally to make sure that if there becomes a load imbalance where that entire region does not have enough power to meet the demand of all of the customers in those 17 states, what can happen is a Much longer much larger and uncontrolled uh, you know what folks in the media like to call a blackout, and so this was done as a preventative measure to avoid a much longer much larger uh and prolonged uh power outage uh again, that’s, not not something that utilities Can control uh? The second thing is one of the uh.

The the comments we’ve had a lot from media and a lot from customers is. Why didn’t we get more warning and why didn’t ever g tell us where this was going to happen so i’d like to address that and then i’m sure we’ll get some questions and we can. We can uh talk about it, some more, as i mentioned before, we had about 10 minutes notice from the time that southwest power pool asked us to reduce our load, to the time that we actually had to implement the temporary power outages, which means that there is Virtually no time to give warning, and in fact in states like california, some parts of texas and other eastern states where they have temporary power outages that are more frequent, it’s still very uncommon for advanced notice to be able to be given. Simply because where we have to turn off the power, how much power has to be turned off and the notice that we get simply as a practical matter prevents our ability from being able to tell people where and when something like that is going to happen. Particularly when we get instructions from the southwest power pool – and we don’t have a lot of lead time again – we have to act quickly to ensure the integrity and the operational stability of the electrical grid. The second thing that i think is is important about that is, in addition to understanding how much load we have to reduce how much demand we have to reduce and figuring out where that can be done.

We also have to take out critical infrastructure like hospitals, like places where coveted vaccine is being stored. In this case, we want to see if we can take out things like natural gas and petroleum pumping stations and pipelines so that the fuel constraints in the region don’t get exacerbated by outages. All of that has to happen in a very compressed time frame and again. That is why notice and the exact location are very difficult things to show and then, finally, with respect to wear and being able to talk about it, what we do is we look at our entire service territory over that 10 15 minute time period and we try And pick places that will keep the grid balanced and stable and operational from our service territory, as well as where power is flowing in the southwest power pool generally and so again. That’S very complex it’s done in a very short amount of time and something that in the future, hopefully technology will help us get a little better with given the time constraints and the operational constraints we were given yesterday and if we have to call them again. Today. Very difficult to do again. All of this is in the name of making sure that we don’t get to a situation where we have too much demand to meet the obligation to keep the grid running either here or in the southwest power pool generally and avoid what we’re, seeing in places like Texas now, where there’s close to 5 million customers that have been out for at least a day and some are going to be multiple day time periods so real briefly.

Just to summarize, we did implement temporary emergency power outages yesterday from 1215 to 125.. It impacted less than two percent of our customers in evergy’s service territory, uh again that’s right around 52 000 people, uh no customers should have that was part of a temporary emergency power. Outage should have experienced an outage much longer than about 30 minutes, and this was initiated through the spp or southwest power pool when they uh implemented an energy emergency alert 3, which is the first time. That’S happened: uh in the history of the southwest power pool uh. From a communication standpoint, we sent out over a million emails. We were active on social media yesterday and we did restrict our website to just dealing with outages and outage information because of the traffic flow that we had incoming from customers and uh, so that that’s a summary of of what happened yesterday, as the sun comes up Today and people start uh showering and getting ready for work and getting into work as people start making things and businesses open up. We are at increased risk of having more temporary emergency power outages. So we would ask people to continue to try and conserve their electricity use to to keep blind shut, to keep thermostats down and to only do things that use the electricity that you absolutely must uh again the the time where most risk uh from the southwest power Pool is probably between about eight o’clock and am today and about 1 pm.

We cannot predict and we have not heard from the southwest power pool if they expect to call any more temporary emergency power outages. But what we do know is that they are expecting to hit another system peak or another record level of demand this morning and so again, we’d ask customers to continue to conserve electricity and to work with us as we try and get out of this morning and Into this evening, when, hopefully, the temperatures will start um uh getting a little better and a little warmer, so that is uh that’s what we uh that’s.

What do you think?

Written by freotech

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