• Allison Kite, Kansas Reflector

Kansas, western Missouri at low risk for insufficient electrical supply this winter

A forecast by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation shows severe weather could place a strain on the electrical grid in some parts of the country. (Jill Hummels for Kansas Reflector)

A national grid watchdog released its winter outlook earlier this month

The electrical grid that covers Kansas and western Missouri is expected to have plenty of power to keep up with demand this winter. But in the event of severe weather, the St. Louis area could be at risk.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation released its winter outlook on Thursday, Nov. 17, assessing potential vulnerabilities to the grid. The need for a more reliable grid has been a frequent topic of discussion for utilities since a cold snap in February 2021 knocked out power in Texas and forced rolling blackouts in the Midwest.

NERC found some areas, including Texas, still face the risk of not having enough power during peak demand.

“At a high level, we found that a large portion of North America is at risk of insufficient electricity supplies during peak winter conditions,” Mark Olson, manager for reliability assessments at NERC, said during a news conference.

He said the good news is that “almost all areas are well prepared for normally occurring or average winter years.”

In Kansas and western Missouri, the Southwest Power Pool, has added more natural gas generation since last winter and should have enough power even when demand is high and some power supplies are unavailable, according to NERC.

Midcontinent System Operator — which covers eastern Missouri, the upper midwest and parts of the south — has less reserve power than last year because of coal and nuclear power plants being retired.

Extreme weather, the report says, could force residents to reduce their energy use, but it says load shedding is “unlikely.” Load shedding is when utilities force outages for a few hours to keep the grid from becoming overwhelmed and leading to a blackout.

SPP was forced to shed load during a historic cold snap in February 2021 largely because natural gas was difficult to come by.

This article was used by permission from the Kansas Reflector. The Kansas Reflector is a non-profit online news organization serving Kansas. For more information on the organization, go to its website at www.kansasreflector.com.

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