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PSC investigates cold snap’s effect on utilities


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — As the Midwest recovers from last week’s winter storm, Missouri’s Public Service Commission (PSC) is investigating its impact on utility companies.

The commission ordered its Regulatory Analysis and Customer Experience departments to compile a report summarizing the findings of regional transmission organizations (RTOs), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and other relevant bodies on the preparation and response of Missouri’s investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities to extreme weather events. The report will be made available to the General Assembly and to county commissions. A deadline of April 22 was set for an initial report during the PSC’s weekly agenda meeting. 

“Much of the Midwest, including Missouri, experienced unseasonably cold temperatures in February 2021,” the commission said in a statement. “Such temperatures resulted in rolling electrical blackouts and extreme natural gas price spikes in Missouri. … The report should also include information from the utilities as to their response measures, impacts on customers, and lessons learned going forward.”

Missouri companies initiated rolling blackouts last week based on recommendations from the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), one of the RTOs serving the state. SPP, which runs through 14 states, also joined utility companies and PSC Chairman Ryan Silvey in asking customers to conserve energy to maintain the vitality of the grid. Silvey told The Missouri Times energy conservation was key when energy demand exceeded supply during extreme weather. 

Texas faced mass power outages for millions of residents, which Silvey said was in part due to operating under its own individual transmission group not connected to other states. 

Most of Missouri’s congressional delegates called on FERC to investigate the nation’s national gas supply in the aftermath of the storm. 

The weather delayed legislative action in the statehouse last week, with the Senate suspending its side of session and the House holding off until Wednesday.