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St. Robert urges residents to minimize electricity usage due to cold weather

SAINT ROBERT, Mo. (Jan. 1, 2022) -- With severe weather on its way this weekend, City of Saint Robert, Missouri officials have urged residents to conserve electricity to avoid a repeat of last year's peak electric usage that led to the city being charged much higher electric rates which then had to be passed on to area residents in their electric bills.

St. Robert Mayor George Lauritson clarified Saturday that a peak alert is **NOT** yet in effect.

"Peak usage" happens when electric utilities that don't generate their own power -- which includes all of the city utilities in Pulaski County and the two rural co-ops, Laclede Electric Cooperative and Gascosage Electric Cooperative -- have to buy more electricity than to serve their customers than they had agreed to buy in their electric contracts and must pay a premium price to do so. That premium price is paid to the electricity generation companies, and in some cases, they are also paying premium prices if they have to buy electricity from outside the region. While St. Robert, Waynesville, and the City of Richland, Missouri Municipal Government run their own electric utilities, residents of the cities of Crocker and Dixon are served by Gascosage.

Peak alerts can happen in both severe cold and severe heat when people use more electricity to heat or cool their homes and businesses than normal. Under worst-case scenarios, utilities may face brownouts or blackouts in which they have to cut off electricity to customers, and Lauritson said the city came close to having to do that during the last electric usage peak.

In an announcement issued this week, St. Robert officials asked residents to consider lowering their thermostats by a few degrees, delaying the use of major appliances such as washers, dryers and dishwashers, and turning off unnecessary lighting.

According to the US National Weather Service Springfield Missouri, rain showers are expected Saturday night before 5 p.m. followed by a chance of snow showers and freezing rain with temperature falling to the freezing point around 32 by 5 p.m. Little or no ice or snow is expected. Tonight, there will be a chance of snow showers, freezing rain, and sleet before 8 p.m., then a chance of snow showers, with temperatures taking a deep dive to a low around 12 degrees with wind chill values as low as zero. Temperatures will warm somewhat on Sunday, with a high near 25 but wind chill values as low as -1. Lows will remain below freezing all week and sometimes not rising above freezing during the day, with lows expected at 25 on Monday and Tuesday, 12 on Wednesday, and 2 on Thursday, with Friday's high temperature only reaching 27 degrees and 22 on Thursday.

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