Extreme cold leads to rolling blackouts

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times
Ice flows down the Missouri River on Monday in the area of Landing Park in Leavenworth.

A wind chill warning is scheduled to remain in effect Tuesday morning in Leavenworth County, but warmer weather is in the forecast for later this week.

Local power companies began rolling blackouts Monday because of the stress placed on the regional power supply during the frigid weather.

Officials with the Evergy power company announced in a news release that they began turning off electricity to blocks of customers Monday afternoon for about 30 to 60 minutes at a time.

"Once the period has concluded, power will be restored to the impacted area," company officials said in a news release. "The emergency outages will then rotate to another portion of Evergy’s service area."

Evergy and other electric companies were asked by Southwest Power Pool to implement the emergency power reductions to help avoid larger outages.

Southwest Power Pool coordinates the regional transmission grid and wholesale energy markets for a 17-state region across the central United States including Kansas.

Evergy customers who experience power outages that last longer than an hour should report the outages by going to www.evergy.com or calling 888-544-4852 or 800-544-4857.

Evergy officials are asking their customers to conserve energy.

Due to the extremely cold conditions, local schools have canceled classes for Tuesday.

Offices of the Leavenworth County government that are considered non-essential also will be closed Tuesday because of the weather conditions and potential for rolling blackouts. This includes the Leavenworth County Transfer Station, according to a message posted on the county's website.

Chuck Magaha, director of Leavenworth County Emergency Management, said employees of county agencies such as the Sheriff's Office and EMS will be working Tuesday.

Temperatures Tuesday morning are expected to drop to around -15 in Leavenworth. Tuesday's high is expected to be around 9 degrees, according to a forecast from the National Weather Service.

High temperatures on Wednesday may be in the 20s. And daily high temperatures may be above the freezing mark by the end of the week.

Snow fell in the area Sunday and Monday.

Magaha said the county had received about three inches of snow by 4 p.m. Monday as snow continued to fall.

There are additional chances for snow Tuesday night and Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Tips to reduce electricity usage

With frigid conditions resulting in a drain on the regional power supply, Evergy offers the following tips for saving energy:

• Turn thermostats a little cooler (65-68 degrees). Avoid the use of electric space heaters.

• Close blinds and shades to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows.

• Change or clean filters on furnaces.

• Turn off unnecessary lights and appliances in your home.

• When possible, use large appliances (clothes washers, dryers and dishwashers) between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

• Reduce air leaks that let cold air in by sealing around doors and windows with weatherstripping or caulk and inserting foam gaskets on electrical switches and outlets.

• Businesses should reduce the use of electric lighting and electricity-consuming equipment as much as possible.

• Large consumers of electricity should consider shutting down or reducing non-essential processes.