Kansas utilities programs prevent brownouts this summer

Heat waves like the one this summer used to mean one thing: a record for how much electricity utilities had to provide on the hottest days. But this year, Kansas City Power & Light Co. fell well short of its record for “peak demand” for electricity. Despite the searing heat, that meant no threats of blackouts or brownouts and no failures for overtaxed equipment.

How did that happen?

The sour economy played a part, curbing overall electricity demand, and more-efficient air conditioners helped to reduce power use, but KCP&L also gives a big part of the credit to its programs that are specifically designed to curb peak demand.

Under one of those programs, called Energy Optimizer, a record number of residential customers volunteered to automatically reduce their air-conditioning use for a few hours on some of the hottest days. With a little help from commercial customers, that was enough for KCP&L to avoid setting a record for peak usage of electricity.

“It’s without question there have been a couple or three days this summer we would have broken our record without this,” said Chuck Caisley, a spokesman for the utility.

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