Evergy explains how it picked areas for controlled power outages during deep freeze

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Thousands of people in the metro lost power over the last few days. Jason Cupp was one of them, left in the dark for at least three hours on Tuesday. 

“Our entire neighborhood did,” Cupp said. “We’re in Brookside right now. My dad lives in Mission, Kan., and on the other side of the state line, his power was also off for about 3 hours.” 

Millions of customers across the multi-state region lost power in the bone chilling cold because the Southwest Power Pool asked providers like Evergy to decrease how much energy it used to help avoid widespread blackouts.

Many customers were left to wonder how Evergy picked where to pull the plug. 

“They also were spread throughout the area that we serve. So they weren’t necessarily in one community or another or small towns versus cities,” Gina Penzig from Evergy said. 

Penzig said the Operations Team comes up with the plan for energy reductions in advance. 

“We were careful to, as best we could, avoid hospitals or any kind of emergency facilities like that,” Penzig said. “We also looked for places where we knew where we felt that we could get power back on fairly efficiently.” 

This is the first time local energy companies have been called on to cut power to customers. The Southwest Power Pool made the call. The SPP is a nonprofit mandated by the federal government. Their mission is to regulate power, infrastructure and fair prices for energy providers in 14 states throughout our region. 

“We’re managing things from a regional perspective and trying to prevent longer, more widespread and uncontrolled outages. To do that, we’ve got to work with our member utilities to come up with interim local solutions,” said Derek Wingfield from Southwest Power Pool. 

The SPP started when an Arkansas power plant needed more energy to produce military supplies during World War II. Post-war, officials decided to keep pooling energy resources. Lanny Nickell, chief operating officer at SPP, said there will be a debrief about the latest energy emergencies. 

“There will be a lot of questions asked. It’s going to take time just to analyze and investigate and really understand all of the drivers,” Nickell said. “We’re going to be asked questions ourselves. Did we do all the right things?” 

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