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Winter storm hits Boone County

Appalachian Power prepares, while customers set new all-time peak demand

Fred Pace fpace@civitasmedia.com

2 months 26 days 22 hours ago |123 Views | | | Email | Print

As snow falls on Boone County, Appalachian Poswer is preparing for heavy electricity demand.


Forecasters are predicting this winter storm to blanket the service territory with up to 6 inches of snow and single digit temperatures. Lows tonight in this region are forecasted as low as 4 degrees.


Schools are closed, roadways are slick and forecasters are calling for more snow and freezing temperatures.


“Our system is designed to handle customers’ electricity demand in both hot and cold temperature extremes,” said Phil Wright, Appalachian Power’s vice president of distribution operations. “Our engineering staff has reviewed equipment where we could have load problem and is taking action as needed.”


Wright says customers should try to conserve electricity when they can by decreasing the thermostat settings to the lowest comfortbale level and postpone use of major electric appliances, such as stoves, dishwashers and clothes dryers until mid-day or 9 p.m., when the demand for electricity decreases.


During the last Arctic blast, Appalachian Power customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee set an unofficial all-time peak demand of 8,410 megawatts (MW) at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7. Arctic cold weather across the company’s entire service area helped push electricity consumption past the previous record of 8,308 MW set on Jan. 16, 2009.


“We’re facing the coldest temperatures in 20 years, not just in some parts of our service territory, but across all of the coldest temperatures in 20 years, not just in some parts of our service territory, but across all of the three-state area that we serve,” said Charles Patton, Appalachian Power president and COO. “That has pushed the customer demand for electricity past anything we’ve ever seen.”


The new company peak will be confirmed next month when additional metering information is available to verify the customer consumption. A megawatt is a measurement of electricity demanded equal to one million watts. One hundred watts will light a 100-watt light bulb.


Appalachian Power has approximately 1 million customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee (as AEP Appalachian Power). It is a unit of American Electric Power, one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, which delivers electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states.


AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 39,000-mile network that includes more 765 kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined.


Customers who do lose service can report outages to Appalachian Power by calling the customer service center toll-free at 1-800-982-4237.


Meanwhile, the drop in temperatures and more snow falling this week could cause power outages in the area. The nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) offers the following tips to keep families safe and comfortable:


Family Safety


1. Include power outages in your family disaster plan, identifying alternate means of transportation and routes to home, school or work.


2. Keep extra cash on hand since an extended power outage may prevent you from withdrawing money from automatic teller machines or banks.


3. Keep your car fuel tank at least half-full, gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.


4. During a power outage, resist the temptation to call 9-1-1 for information–that’s what your battery-powered radio is for.


5. Turn off all lights but one, to alert you when power resumes.


6. Check on elderly neighbors, friends, or relatives who may need assistance if weather is severe during the outage.


7. Keep a supply of flashlights, batteries and a battery-powered radio on hand. Do not use candles as they pose a fire hazard.


Keeping Warm


8. Put on layers of warm clothing. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors.


9. If you are using a gas heater or fireplace to stay warm, be sure the area is properly ventilated.


10. Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345)


Food


11. Keep a supply of non-perishable foods, medicine, baby supplies, and pet food as appropriate on hand. Be sure to have at least one gallon of water per person per day on hand.


12. Avoid opening the fridge or freezer. Food should be safe as long as the outage lasts no more than four hours.


13. Have one or more coolers for cold food storage in case power outage is prolonged. Perishable foods should not be stored for more than two hours above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.


14. If you eat food that was refrigerated or frozen, check it carefully for signs of spoilage.


Generators


15. Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. Use gas-powered generators only in well-ventilated areas.


16. Connect only individual appliances to portable generators.


17. Don’t plug emergency generators into electric outlets or hook them directly to your home’s electrical system – as they can feed electricity back into the power lines, putting you and line workers in danger.


When Power Returns


18. When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that can damage equipment such as computers and motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer or furnace.


19. When power is restored, wait a few minutes before turning on major appliances to help eliminate further problems caused by a sharp increase in demand.


For more information, tips and resources for winter safety visit www.protect-your-home.org or www.greatwinterweatherparty.org.

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