Alva Review-Courier -

Kelly signs state of emergency as frigid cold grips Kansas


February 17, 2021

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas residents were asked Monday to conserve energy as utility companies began imposing rolling blackouts in response to exploding frigid temperatures and wind chills across the state.

Andrew French, chairman of the Kansas Corporation Commission, said at a news conference that some blackouts lasting 60 to 90 minutes were implemented in certain areas of Kansas early Monday.

He said the commission hoped further blackouts would not be necessary but more could be imposed if needed Monday evening or Tuesday, when demand will be high because of continued sub-freezing temperatures.

Southwest Power Pool Inc., which oversees power distribution across several states including Kansas and Missouri, announced Monday it had exhausted its available reserve energy and directed its member utilities to implement "controlled interruptions of service to prevent further and more widespread and uncontrolled outages."

French said the commission would investigate what caused the blackouts in the coming months.

French and Gov. Laura Kelly urged residents to cut back on electricity use over the next 24 to 72 hours to prevent supply problems and reduce higher gas and electric bills.

Kelly declared a state of disaster for Kansas on Sunday as frigid temperatures and life-threatening wind chills continued to grip the state.

Wind chills dropped as low as minus 30 F in some areas overnight Sunday, and temperatures will struggle to be above zero, adding to nearly a week of extremely low temperatures in much of the state, according to The National Weather Service.

Most government offices and schools were closed because of the Presidents Day holiday, and authorities were pleading with residents to stay home.

The low temperatures put stress on utility and natural gas providers, which asked customers to conserve energy during the cold snap. The emergency declaration allows state resources and personnel to be used to help with response or recovery operations under certain circumstances.

"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," Kelly said.

The freezing conditions were expected to last through Tuesday in much of the state before temperatures gradually warm during the week.


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