Winter weather conditions in northwest Missouri have led Evergy to conduct rolling power outages starting Feb. 15 and lasting through Feb. 17. Maryville customers can expect sporadic service interruptions lasting 30 to 60 minutes, but the duration of outages are expected to become shorter over time.
According to Gina Penzig, external communications manager of Evergy, outages could occur anytime regional power demand is greater than supply; with recent cold weather, demand has been high. Penzig advises customers to voluntarily reduce energy usage and have a plan in place for an outage.
“The Southwest Power Pool has asked us to be on alert through the 17th,” Penzig said, referring to the utility company that coordinates a 17 state regional power supply. “Looking at weather forecasts, that’s when things are supposed to be getting a little less cold and we should have relieved the stress on the power grid. However, we will continue to monitor and that time could be adjusted.”
Penzig said that while Evergy is trying to hold interruptions within the 30 to 60 minute time frame, it is possible for outages to last longer in some areas. Having a plan in place is important, Penzig said, in case this were to happen.
In the Southwest Power Pool area, there are two times of day where outages are most likely to happen: early in the morning as people and businesses get ready for the day, and similarly, at the end of the day in the late afternoon and evening as people get home and utilize appliances. But outages are not limited to these times.
“At any point right now, with these cold temperatures, if we start to see that the demand for electricity is greater than the supply, we could have interruptions,” Penzig said.
With recent forecasts and an ongoing wind chill warning for Nodaway County, Northwest closed its Maryville and Kansas City campus locations through Feb. 16 as a safety measure for students and employees. Overnight lows for Feb. 15 forecast by the National Weather Service remain around minus 20 degrees. Windchill values for Tuesday are between minus 22 and minus 32 degrees.
In response to the situation, Nodaway County opened three warming centers: Laura Street Baptist Church at 120 South Laura Street in Maryville, a Maryville Public Safety training room on 101 North Vine Street, and the Jackson Township Fire Station at 109 South Main Street in Ravenwood, Missouri.
Laura Street Baptist Church was open until 5 p.m. Feb. 15, the Maryville Public Safety training room will be open 24 hours until further notice and the Jackson Township Fire Station will open at 6 p.m. and remain open until further notice.
The city urges its residents to check on neighbors, the elderly and anyone else who may need assistance.
University Police Chief Clarence Green said students should work to conserve energy and check their emails for possible outages.
“Right now we may even have to cancel some classes,” Green said. “ If a rolling power outage happens during the middle of a class period that is online today or tomorrow, you know, how do those students get credit for it?”
Green said the University has not made any final decisions on how to handle potential rolling outages amid tomorrow’s online classes.
Evergy did not inform the University of when the outages will affect campus or which parts of campus. When the outages occur, it typically takes the University extra time following the outage to have power running again.
“With our system, if we’re off for 60 minutes or even 30 minutes, it’s going to take us about another 30 to 60 minutes to bring our systems back on,” Green said. “You can’t just flip all the power back on at such a large facility. Not without blowing some stuff up.”
Like Evergy, UPD asks that students be aware of their environment, stay indoors and leave only to get necessities for short periods of time, dress appropriately and help others to conserve energy.
Green also said students should keep extra blankets around and not use space heaters or light candles in the residence halls in order to avoid fire hazards.
UPD has additional officers on duty to help ensure student safety and help where needed. Vehicle jump starts have taken up the majority of recent requests from students.
“This is not a time to go visit friends or go randomly shopping,” Green said. “They really need to be staying in. It’s a danger for our students and staff to be out in these temperatures for extended periods of time.”
Green said if current weather conditions continue to the end of the week, Northwest will look at different options for course instruction.