SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Sedgwick County Chairman Pete Meitzner signed a State of Local Disaster Emergency Declaration for the county Wednesday due to the effects of the extreme weather and cold.

The declaration is in effect starting Wednesday and will continue to remain in effect for seven days unless otherwise determined by the Board of County Commissioners. Sedgwick County stated thee Board of County Commissioners are expected to discuss this in the next few days.

Sedgwick County residents are currently experiencing not only severely cold outdoor temperatures, which have led to a strain on utility services, but also experiencing water damage, water main breaks, the need for warming stations, and seeing an increase in the demand for natural gas and electricity.

Sedgwick County Emergency Management will gather information and evaluate the impacts of severe winter weather in Sedgwick County within the past week and over the next several days. This action is in line with Governor Laura Kelly’s State of Disaster Emergency Proclamation from February 15, 2021, for the weather conditions.

On Wednesday, Andrew French, Kansas Corporation Commission chairperson spoke at the governor’s press conference in Topeka in light of the current inclement weather and pertinent power issues.

“As you all know, we did experience coordinated blackouts Monday midday, and Tuesday morning — SPP Southwest Southwest power pool and our utilities gave us every indication that additional coordinated blackouts would occur this morning,” French said.

“I’m happy to report that we did make it through our peak with SPP narrowly having enough power to meet that demand — the drivers of that good news were first that we were able to import a good amount of power from our neighboring regions, and second, the energy usage in our region, it did come in lower than forecasts which are usually really accurate,” French said. He added, “But I think what I would emphasize is that our conservation measures by our residents and our businesses are likely making the difference in preventing blackouts this morning and we thank you for that.”

French shared a note of caution about generating power plants running constantly in harsh and extreme weather conditions for a couple of weeks now. He said this puts them under stress and at the risk of malfunction — so if a major generation source were to be lost, there could be further interruptions. “Again, our hope is that we can get through the next day or so, get into warmer temperatures, without that happening — and as temperatures warm the strain on the energy system will ease,” he said.

“So that’s where we’re are right now cautious optimism, but we are still operating under emergency conditions so some reason for continued conservation measures,” he added.

On Wednesday evening, the Southwest Power Pool issued an energy emergency alert level 2. Rolling blackouts occur when the emergency alert is at level 3. Evergy released the following information on its Facebook page Wednesday evening.