Some customers frustrated by lack of notice about rolling blackouts across Kansas City metro

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Subzero temperatures hit the Kansas City region Monday, and on one of the coldest days of the year, nearly 60,000 people were without power for at least 30 minutes. 

Katherine Hambrick, who lives in an apartment east of Troost Avenue, was one of many who lost power. 

“How are you supposed to plan for this kind of thing if nobody tells you?” Hambrick asked. “I had to call into work.” 

Customers on both sides of the state line checked for emails and notifications from Evergy, one of the largest electricity providers in the metro, but most learned of the planned blackouts from news outlets and social media.

Joseph Arduini, an Evergy customer in Roeland Park, didn’t lose power, but he’s concerned with the lack of communication. 

“There’s a payment that goes to them every single month. I feel like we should know what’s going on,” Arduini said. “The folks that are paying the bills deserve some answers, rather than ‘Let’s just turn your power off for 30 minutes and call it a day’ kind of thing.” 

Gina Penzig, external communications manager at Evergy, said the Southwest Power Pool orderd the rolling outages as part of a regional effort to save energy at a time when the demand was outpacing the supply.

“You have an amount of energy use that you’re expected to reduce very quickly. So there’s not a lot of time because you don’t necessarily know exactly what those numbers are going to be or what other specific conditions you might have to meet, to be able to give customers advance notice,” Penzig said. 

Penzig added the company knew about the forecast ahead of time and planned for severe weather. 

“We knew that we would be facing some tough conditions and put some cold weather practices in place to make sure that we locally would be meeting supply needs,” Penzig said. “The Southwest Power Pool called on us and all of its members to help reduce to use because this is a regional event.” 

Evergy said there could be more blackouts in the coming days without advanced notice. The company is asking customers to conserve energy by doing things like turning down the thermostat. 

“I mean, I just hunker down and wear my giant jacket and deal with the fact that my house is 57 degrees right now,” Hambrick said. 

FOX4 asked Evergy if the company would offer any credits or courtesies to customers impacted by outages. Penzig said that discussion hasn’t happened yet. 

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