Westar Energy gearing up for potential ice storm

Westar Energy (KSN File Photo)
Westar Energy (KSN File Photo)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Westar Energy is monitoring the winter storm heading into Kansas this weekend.

The energy company said they have crews on stand-by just in case conditions get bad and power lines are damaged from ice.

“We make everybody is on the same page, watching the weather. We make sure that we are fully stocked on all of our supplies and things we need to make repairs,” said Shane Batchelder, Westar Energy spokesman.

It includes contacting other energy companies in the area.

“We may be calling on some help from out-of-state and other utilities that take part in a mutual assistance program,” added Batchelder.

Many in Wichita remember a devastating ice storm in 2005. Thousands were without power for up to a week.

Westar says they have been preparing since then. The utility has been working year around to make sure trees are trimmed away from service and transmission lines. It is called ReliabiliTree.

“If we do have an event like this, whether it is ice, snow or wind, or something like that, that would potentially cause larger outages or problems with our equipment and branches blowing into our equipment, we hope to mitigate that a little bit and lessen the effects of a big weather event like this,” said Batchelder. “As a result, since we have started the program, we have actually had about 60 percent decrease in tree related outages, as a result of trimming.”

Batchelder adds that the lines can withstand a lot of ice. He warns that wind can be a problem.

“If those lines get weighted down with freezing rain or ice or anything like that, and then, we introduce wind into the mixture, then that creates a whole set of other problems that we deal with there.”

Reporting a power outage

  • Enroll in updates by texting REG to 97827. Text OUT to 97827 if your power goes out. Once enrolled, Westar will notify customers if an outage may be affecting their home or business.
  • Outages can be reported online (using a desktop computer or mobile device) at WestarEnergy.com.
  • The MyWestar app, available for iOS and Android, includes access to outage reporting.
  • Call 1-800-LIGHT-KS (1-800-544-4857) to report an outage.

Safety around down lines or galloping lines

  • Ice and storm conditions can bring power lines down. Always assume a powerline is energized and stay away from it. Report downed lines to 911.
  • If you are in a vehicle that comes into contact with a power line, stay in the vehicle and call 911. Wait in the vehicle for help to arrive and ensure that you can safely exit the vehicle.
  • Ice can collect on power lines, weighing them down. This can cause lines to gallop (similar to whipping a rope with your wrists). If you observe galloping lines, keep your distance. The ice could break loose and be flung from the line or the ice could cause the power line to break; both are a danger to anyone standing nearby.