‘We were freezing’: During frigid morning in Kansas City, some go without power for hours

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In the bone chilling cold, thousands of people throughout the Kansas City metro were out of power Tuesday.

Some outages were intentional and only for a brief time to cut consumption at the direction of the Southwest Power Pool. Others, like Brandy Granados in Kansas City, lingered for hours because of system failures. 

“I only had my food stamp card, and without power in the neighborhood, I couldn’t even use that because none of the machines were working,” Granados said. “So like my kids were starving. We were freezing. We were all huddled in my room under blankets with no clue when it was going to end or if it was going to end.” 

Granados’ power was back after six hours. Sarah Standifer, also in Kansas City, waited 12 hours for electricity to return. 

“We were cold. My kids were uncomfortable. All my family’s lights were off, so it’s not like I could go over there,” Standifer said. 

For the first time in history, the Southwest Power Pool has had to issue an Energy Emergency Alert Level 3. The levels fluctuate based on the demand of the system at any given time.

So what does that mean for your bill? Chuck Caisley, chief customer officer at Evergy, said the company is looking into options. 

“When it comes to the increased cost as a result of this, what we will ultimately do is work with regulators to talk about what those costs are and then work very hard to spread those costs out over a longer period of time so that people don’t experience a price spike,” Caisley said. 

But Lanny Nickell, chief operating officer at SPP, said customers should expect to pay more in the coming months. 

“It would be fair to expect higher priced electric and gas bills,” Nickell said. “It’s a supply and demand situation. We’ve heard of gas prices being an extremely high magnitudes of 100 times normal process.” 

Some customers impacted by outages hope power companies invest in better infrastructure to handle severe weather and demand like this.

“I would like to see them reinvest that money in updating their equipment, updating their marketing or notification system. At least their consumers, the ones that are paying them, you know, those millions of dollars, would at least be able to know and be able to survive,” said Diane Charity, from Kansas City. 

Evergy is warning customers that there’s a strong possibility for more rolling power outages overnight into Wednesday morning. If the SPP calls for them, they’d likely occur from midnight to 11 a.m. Wednesday. Evergy said it’s on standby.

The company is continuing to ask customers to conserve energy as much as possible. They’re also encouraging people to make sure phones and other devices are charged and prepare an emergency kit with blankets, warm clothes, flashlights and batteries just in case.

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