Dangerous heat raises concerns about strain on grid, potential power outages

STILL UNTITLED: Heatwave
STILL UNTITLED: Heatwave(Pixabay)
Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 10:42 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - With a string of days with afternoon highs in the triple-digits including a high of 107 and a Storm Team 12 Weather Alert Day Tuesday, July 19, there come concerns about possible stress on electricity providers leading to power shortages and outages.

Kansas electric companies are part of what’s called The Southwest Power Pool (SPP). Should we be concerned about this heat wave? Overall, energy experts say, we’re in good shape, for now.

Lately, air conditioner may be running constantly and when more and more people are using a lot of energy, it puts stress on the Southwest Power Pool energy grid.

“The Southwest Power Pool is what we call the balancing authority for the SPP footprint. And in that role, they have the responsibility to meet the electric demand with available generation capacity,” said Sunflower Electric Power Supply and Delivery Vice President Corey Linville. “When that ability becomes strained either due to high demand or reduced generation capacity, there’s different levels of advisories they can issue.”

Midwest Energy Corporate Communications Director Mike Morley said currently, there’s not a concern about widespread power outages in Kansas due to the heat.

Right now, we’re not even near Level 1 at this point, we’re just very closely monitoring the status of the generation capacity and transmission capacity throughout the system,” Morley said.

Energy Emergency Alert 1 (Level 1) is where problems begin and people could be asked to conserve. While not to this point, energy companies say SPP will be on alert and it is a good idea to be proactive and conserve energy where they can.

“Using large electrical appliances in the early-morning hours or later in the evening after demand has dropped off, turning off lights when they’re not in use, turning off other electrical devices when they’re not in use, maybe raising your thermostat a degree or two,” Linville suggested.

Besides helping to ease stress on the grid, those steps are also practical ways to save on your energy bill, Morley said.

“The price of natural gas has almost doubled where it was in July of 2021 and with a significant portion of the electricity that we use being generated by natural gas, obviously that means that portion of your bill will be higher,” he said.

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