Just when you thought Platte City’s unreliable electricity was starting to turn reliable. Nope.
The outages are not exactly a new experience in Platte City, as outages have periodically plagued downtown (where The Landmark office is located) for years. But the outages seem to be increasing in number and in length. Customers have noted that there have been as many as four outages of eight hours or more over the past six months. An outage on Tuesday of this week was shorter but not any less frustrating to business owners and residents.
And once again, the Evergy service area in Platte City affected by the outage can be well-defined as the original part of town. In other words, the area more likely being served by aged equipment. The Evergy service area that suffers the most outages can be geographically described as north of Hwy. 92 into downtown and south of Hwy. 92 along the Second and Fourth Street corridors. Essentially everything west of the Platte County R-3 campus.
The Evergy power outage this week left 1,500 customers in the Platte City area–including of course the downtown area that includes restaurants, professional service businesses and a Platte County Courthouse trying to conduct, you know, pretty important business, including at the time of Tuesday’s outage the trial of a man committed of accusing a child sex crime–without power for roughly 75 minutes mid-day. No power from 11:33 a.m. till 12:47 p.m., wiping out the money-making time of day for downtown restaurants and raising the blood pressure of business owners throughout the affected service areas throughout the city.
To say the natives are getting restless is an understatement. A couple of downtown business owners popped in our office during the outage boiling with anger and frustration. It would be nice to see City of Platte City officials get much more vocal in their distaste for this kind of service to the town’s businesses and residents. Platte City’s elected officials, I believe, are underestimating how embarrassing this is to the city as a whole and how negatively this can impact the city’s economic development future. Think about it. If you’re a prospective business owner looking for a city in which to locate, are you going to want to set up shop in a city that’s always in the news for power outages, many of them lengthy? I think not. If people hear the words “Platte City” and their first thought is “Oh yeah, that’s the city with crappy electrical service” things aren’t going to go well in the economic development department.
At least a county commissioner, Joe Vanover, has been working to put pressure on Evergy. On the other hand, I approached Platte City Mayor Tony Paolillo at the July 4th celebration in downtown Platte City and asked him to chime in on the consistent power outages from Evergy. The mayor is a good guy and he does a heck of a job putting himself on the dunk tank every July 4th. But his constituents need more from him on this. I know he’s not a public speaker–he admits as such–but come on. It’s time for some leadership. He’s got a job to do. True, he’s not good at public speaking but on July 4th–during the time we were doing a series of articles on the unreliable service from Evergy provided to his constituents–I gave the mayor the chance to collect his thoughts on the topic and email them to me for a story. No pressure for public speaking. Still, crickets from the mayor. Hello, mayor? Are you alive? The residents and businesses funding your city really need you go to bat for them. In fact they deserve at least that much. That’s what being an elected public servant is all about.
The city needs to put a heavy amount of public pressure on Evergy to get this figured out. As things stand now, doing business in Platte City is like trying to do business in a Third World country.
I feel sorry for the food establishments trying to operate in the area of frequent outages. Losing product during outages, having to turn away customers during your money-making time of day, being forced to pay employees to hang around and wait for the power to come back on–in hopes that it actually does come back on before the end of your business day. Good grief. What a nightmare.
Anyway, if the mayor doesn’t have the desire to help lead the fight then some aldermen need to step forward and grab the bull by the horns. It’s time for an elected leader at City Hall to step forward. In fact it’s past time. Platte County officials, with a courthouse and administration building in downtown Platte City, are showing some willingness to fight. Where’s the city in all of this? Noticeably quiet in comparison.
There’s a problem and it doesn’t seem like it’s getting better. The affected business owners–even the normally mild-mannered ones–have run out of patience. Elected officials ignoring the situation or accepting it as a way of life is not the answer and is not acceptable. Sure, this is Evergy’s problem but it’s a reflection on the city of Platte City. The bad publicity isn’t good for anyone, and its particularly embarrassing for a city that could use a boost in trying to recruit development that is more than the warehousing planned east of I-29.
This is real life. This isn’t fantasy. Platte City business owners aren’t playing with Monopoly money.
How about City Hall hosting a town forum where the unreliable electrical service is the topic? Invite business owners and residents to come tell their stories of impact from the frequent power outages. Invite a higher-up from Evergy to come hear how the company’s unreliable service is having a negative impact on people’s livelihoods.
In fact. I’ll offer The Landmark’s video services and we’ll broadcast that town forum live on the internet, and then when the live feed is over we will blast the video across every zip code in the KC Metro and beyond with targeted Facebook marketing for a full week. My treat.
I called the Evergy media hotline on Tuesday afternoon seeking an explanation for the latest power outage. After all, none of Evergy’s usual excuses of “a tree fell on a line,” “high winds,” “high demand due to the extreme heat,” and “the dog ate my homework” were able to be applied to Tuesday’s outage. The explanation this time from Evergy was an admission of equipment failure. Shocker. Have you ever noticed the Evergy electrical substation near the orange water tower along Hwy. 92? It looks like something straight out of Hooterville.
So maybe there’s hope if the company has at least reached the point it is admitting problems with its equipment. Maybe. Evergy is a huge outfit. It’s often tough to make headway with a large company. A Landmark reader suggests Evergy should be put on blast with the Missouri Public Service Commission.
Anyway, the Evergy spokesperson said the outage was caused “by a blown arrester,” an equipment failure they say is due to “the cumulative effect of the weather,” and “we have replaced the failed arrester.” According to Google, “arresters” are used to protect against direct lightning surge currents, and surge arresters protect equipment from induced surges in electrical wiring.
Here’s a thought, keeping in mind that “cumulative effect” thing: How about replacing aged equipment before it fails? It’s a unique approach businesses often employ. Might wanna try that one.
(Catch Foley and friends talking current events on Landmark Live Thursday on Facebook at Platte County Landmark. Email email@example.com)