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

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A national grid watchdog released its winter outlook Thursday

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 Thursday 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

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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

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: info@kansasreflector.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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