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March 07th, 2021

winter storm jimmyThe recent winter storm the resulted in sub-zero temperatures and multiple days below freezing led to rolling blackouts. Governor Laura Kelly is asking for federal investigators to find out why blackouts were needed. L&T photos/Jimmy HamptonELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

Last week and the week before saw Kansas blasted with arctic conditions that caused many emergencies, including temporary power outages. 

To help prevent that with future weather events, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly recently urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to take all necessary and possible steps to investigate the causes of the system failures during the recent extreme-weather event in Kansas and protect Kansans from natural gas and electricity price surges resulting from increased demand. Also signing Gov. Kelly’s letter were Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) Chair Andrew French, Commissioner Dwight D. Keen, and Commissioner Susan K. Duffy. 

“I have directed my administration to use every tool at our disposal to ensure Kansans are protected from price surges, and that our system is better prepared to handle problems created by circumstances like extreme cold weather,” Gov. Kelly noted in a release from the State of Kansas. “We will remain in communication with the Biden Administration to secure aid, and continue to encourage Congress to pass a stimulus package with state and local funding to provide relief to Kansas communities.”

“The recent energy pricing and supply emergency will have serious financial implications for all Kansans and the KCC will take every action within our authority to ease that burden,” French noted in that release “However, our jurisdictional reach is limited. We need swift and decisive leadership at the federal level, as well.”

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Gov. Kelly’s letter to the FERC called for the FERC to examine the circumstances that reduced the supply of natural gas and compromised pressures on interstate pipelines, exercise its authority under sections 4A and 23 of the Natural Gas Act and take all actions within its power to protect consumers and ensure the integrity of natural gas price indices, and work with NERC to investigate whether additional reliability mechanisms are needed to respond to similar emergencies in the future, the State of Kansas release noted. 

“It is imperative an adequate, affordable supply of natural gas and electricity be available to meet the needs of Kansas customers, including interconnected non-jurisdictional utilities,” Gov. Kelly’s letter noted. “We appreciate your leadership in announcing a joint inquiry with the North American Reliability Corporation (NERC) to investigate the impacts of severe winter weather on grid operations. We were also heartened to hear your Feb. 18 comments about the seriousness with which you will undertake FERC’s obligation to protect bulk power system reliability. However, we believe more must be done. From an operational standpoint, we respectfully ask FERC to examine the circumstances that reduced the supply of natural gas and compromised pressures on interstate pipelines. We also ask FERC to protect Kansans from the severe economic consequences of this event. FERC should exercise its authority under Sections 4A and 23 of the Natural Gas Act and take all actions within its power to protect consumers and ensure the integrity of natural gas indices. In addition, we ask FERC to investigate the rates and penalties assessed by interstate transportation providers during this event. FERC should also exercise its authority under Section 222 of the Federal Power Act to ensure the integrity of FERC-regulated power markets was not compromised. Further, we ask for FERC to work with NERC to investigate whether additional reliability mechanisms are needed to respond to similar events like this in the future. FERC should conduct these investigations expeditiously and thoroughly, and it should ensure these investigations produce actionable results. Finally, we ask you to bring FERC’s full weight and influence to bear in supporting any legislative proposals that would provide retroactive financial relief to utilities and communities and individual customers they serve.”

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