Metro residents do what they can do conserve energy amid rolling blackouts, record cold

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OLATHE, Kan. — Blackouts by major utilities forced more than 60,000 families across the Kansas City metro to scramble to stay warm Monday.

Residents are trying to do their part to conserve electricity by keeping lights off and turning thermostats down in hopes the heat stays on as bitter cold and snow continue.

Francisco Madrigal bundled up while taking his dog, Hawkeye, for a quick walk in the snow in Olathe. But he and his family are wearing lots of layers inside, too.

“We do have our house set a lower temperature, so we walk around in sweatshirts and so on, so we are trying to follow along. We’ve got to do what’s right for everyone,” Madrigal said.

That’s one thing power companies are asking customers to keep doing. With record strain on the grid, small steps can make a big difference in keeping the lights and heat going. 

Madrigal and most of his neighbors saw their power shut off Monday during Evergy’s rolling blackouts.

“I’ve never seen this happen before. ‘Course I’ve never seen it be this cold for this long,” he said.

His home went dark for more than an hour, and the family did all it could to keep warm.

“I have a gas stove, so I started it up and put hot water, a big cup of hot water on it and just kept it going,” Madrigal said.

Down the street, John Kowalczyk and his wife were surprised to see this unusual outage in a neighborhood with buried power lines.

“I know in summer time when it gets so hot and all the air conditioning runs that sometimes we have blackouts, but it’s very unusual now,” he said. “And I know I’ve heard on television there are several other places that have outages and was very surprised when it happened to us.”

They’re thankful for a gas fireplace to keep warm and friends offering places to stay if the power goes out again.

“Fortunately it was very short, and I feel really badly for the people that endured longer. But I’m sure Evergy is doing everything they can to kind of shorten it,” Kowalczyk said.

“I just hope everyone stays warm,” Madrigal said.

The situation is also a good reminder to have candles and refresh batteries in flashlights if the power goes out again at night. If you can, you’re also asked to run big appliances like the washer, dryer and dishwasher overnight when demand for power is lower.

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