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Evergy Rolling Blackout Q&A

Posted by Bonnie Limbird

Evergy shared some answers to questions they have been hearing within their coverage area communities regarding the power interruptions on Feb. 15th and Feb. 16th.

Evergy did not run out of power during the recent extremely cold weather:

  • Evergy is a member of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) which encompasses 17 states in the central region of the United States.
  • While Evergy had enough generation to meet the needs of our retail customers in Missouri and Kansas, the SPP as a whole was concerned about having enough power to serve all of the customers in its multi-state region. 
  • As a result, the SPP asked Evergy and other electric utilities across the SPP states to reduce electricity use in their service territories for two periods of time. 
  • As a result, from approximately 12:15 p.m. until 1:20 p.m. on Monday, February 15th and again from approximately 7:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, February 16th, Evergy implemented temporary emergency power outages in parts of their service territory. 
  • This was done at the direction of the SPP in order to help avoid larger uncontrolled and extended power outages throughout the region.

Why couldn’t there be advance notice?

The power supply needs were rapidly changing so it was not possible to notify customers in advance. Evergy uses real-time data in their system to implement power outages that best balance the stress on the grid at any given time. With so many variables, conditions can change rapidly and then customers would end up with inaccurate information.

Why did the temporary outages go from 30 minutes to 90 minutes or longer?

The SPP asked Evergy to reduce a lot more power and for a longer period of time on Tuesday than they did on Monday. Once Evergy made the first round of temporary power outages on Tuesday, we were concerned that the SPP would ask us to reduce even more power usage on our system.  As a result, Evergy kept the first emergency temporary power outages in place on Tuesday morning longer than originally planned.

Will my electric rates increase next month?

No, but your bill may be higher based on the amount of electricity you used during the severely cold weather. The cost you see on your electric bill varies based on how much electricity you used that month. You’re charged by the kilowatt hour. Very cold weather may result in higher electricity usage, especially if you use electricity to heat your home. Evergy hasn’t raised the price they’re charging you, meaning your electric rates didn’t go up, you just used more electricity, so your bill is higher.

In Missouri and Kansas (where electricity is regulated), Evergy’s electric rates are set very differently than in Texas, which is a deregulated state.

Commissions may work with utilities to spread unexpected higher costs over a longer period to help minimize the impact on customers. In deregulated states like Texas, electric companies pass through fuel costs directly to customers immediately, so customers may not be insulated from dramatic fluctuations, like what happened this week, in the wholesale fuel markets. Some news stories have referred to potential dramatic increases in monthly bills. Customers of regulated utilities in Kansas and Missouri have some protection from those large increases, and get the benefits when fuel prices are lower, because the prices are based on actual costs and are regulated by the state commissions.

Fuel prices do affect electric bills, but that impact isn’t immediate.

We recover our fuel and purchased power costs from customers through fuel clauses regulated by our state commission. Fuel prices customers pay through the fuel clause are adjusted periodically based on what was actually spent (this helps smooth the effect of market prices). These fuel clauses address the higher costs we incurred by looking at our actual costs and recovering them over a future period.

Additional FAQs: www.evergy.com/manage-account/rate-information/how-rates-are-set/rate-overviews

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