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Missouri utilities ask customers to conserve energy during winter storm

As the Midwest faces snow and frigid temperatures this week, Missouri utilities are advising customers to cut down on energy usage to avoid blackouts, higher bills, and other concerns.

“If at all possible, please consider conserving energy today. Maybe delay the laundry or dishwasher or even drop your thermostat by a degree or two,” Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairman Ryan Silvey said on social media Monday. “The blackouts we are seeing in [Texas] are a regional grid issue, not company-specific, and could happen here as well.”

Texas power outages Monday morning as customers dealt with winter storms, with some expected to be left in the dark through Tuesday.

Companies across the state issued similar statements: Summit Natural Gas warned customers of the increasing demand on utilities this week and urged them to conserve energy for the coming days.

“We are currently experiencing an unprecedented weather event that is impacting gas and electric customers across the Midwest,” said Phil Marcum, senior manager of business development. “Our team has been working around the clock over the weekend to meet customer demand but, due to upstream supply constraints beyond our control, we have begun limiting gas to some interruptible industrial customers. In addition, we are asking our customers and community members to work together by conserving their energy usage for the next few days, if they are safely able to do so.”

Marcum said Summit was enacting its Natural Gas Curtailment Plan, allowing the company to direct its supply away from industrial customers opting for interruptible service and redirect it to residential and other commercial customers. 

Spire Missouri warned of the possibility of frozen natural gas wells and the impact on customers’ bills, as did Ameren and Evergy Missouri.

“With the weather conditions creating a combination of supply issues and high demand, we are seeing increases in natural gas prices in our region,” said Spire Missouri President Scott Carter. “How this will specifically impact customer bills is something we can’t quantify at this time. We want customers to know we are looking out for them and that by taking a few simple steps, they can lower their energy consumption – and help lessen the impact on their bills. The next few days are critical while temperatures remain below freezing.”

Companies suggested turning down thermostats, limiting the use of natural gas fireplaces, sealing drafty areas, letting sunlight into the home, and clearing space around heat registers to let it flow more efficiently.

Parts of Missouri are expected to see 6 inches of snowfall and temperatures are to hover far below freezing for much of the state Monday.

The weather also interrupted the state legislature, at least for the moment: The Senate called Monday’s activities off, while House leadership announced it would hold technical sessions Monday and Tuesday and delayed its hearing schedule.