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Thursday, March 5, 2009

You Need Back-Up Power!

Winter Storm Reveals Utilities' Woes

...The severe weather has cast a spotlight on maintenance at a time when utilities across the U.S. have been responding to higher costs and reduced energy sales by trimming capital spending. The tricky part is cutting spending without degrading companies' ability to maintain service.

In Ohio, the leading consumer advocate on utility issues renewed a call this week for the state to conduct a broad probe into utility spending plans to make sure tree trimming, pole replacement and equipment upgrades are adequate.

The Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel said that the damage from this week's storm underscores the urgency of ensuring that utilities are funding their own maintenance sufficiently to capably withstand severe weather. The office called for an investigation of utility practices in December after a wind storm in September knocked out power to more than two million people, but its concerns go back to storms as early as 2004 and 2005...

I remember 2 years of frequent power failures, literally with almost every snowfall, high wind or thunderstorm. We even lost power for 44 hours right after Christmas dinner clean-up had been completed due to a few inches of snow! Public hearings revealed that our power company deferred using a contractor to trim tree branches along its right of way until a line was taken down. They opted to fix on failure rather than preventive trimming! Management made line crews go home at the end of their shifts rather than pay overtime to complete restoration of power to an entire given area! The Public Utility Commission slapped the power company's hand and power has been more reliable during the past 5 years.

That 5KW generator I bought for the Y2K non-event allowed us to use the well pump, charge batteries and light the core of the house for short periods of time. I wish we could afford one of the new 7.5KW units. It was pathetic to watch the news showing a long line of people, at least one who said he lived in a rural area, at Home Depot waiting for the delivery of generators after the ice storm.


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