Thousands caught off guard by rolling blackouts in Kansas City metro Monday

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Rolling blackouts caught thousands by surprise Monday after the Southwest Power Pool made the emergency request to conserve energy.

SPP manages the power grid from North Dakota to North Texas, including Kansas and parts of Western Missouri.

Rolling blackouts are an extreme step to protect the natural gas supply during this dangerous deep freeze.

“It’s an uncommonly long stretch of severe cold,” said Jim Nail, director of Independence Power and Light. “On top of that, add snow and just everyone trying to get fuels supplies at the same time.”

Nail said a record-breaking stretch of extreme cold caused Independence Power and Light to do something he’s never seen since joining the company in 2004. The company turned off power to 2,000 customers at a time for 20-30 minutes Monday afternoon. FOX4 learned the blackouts stopped around 2:30 p.m.

“We try to look at hospitals and things like that that need to stay on and then look at rotating, so people aren’t off for a very long period of time,” said Paul Lampe, systems operation manager for Independence Power and Light.

Evergy turned off electricity to thousands of customers as well Monday afternoon. At one point, the company said Monday’s rolling blackouts impacted 60,000 customers.

The Kansas Board of Public Utilities inconvenienced about 1,600 customers, it said.

“We understand that there was a large generating resource that actually tripped off in the SPP region and that’s what caused this okay we need to shed load,” Lampe said.

As of now the blackouts have stopped, but power companies said the main way to avoid them happening again are for people at home to reduce energy.

Turn your thermostat down as far as you’re comfortable,” Nail said. “Pull out those sweaters and blankets and help us reduce the demand as much as we can.”

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