Public Service Commission
Ice Storm Outages Top 607,000 Customers - Total exceeds Hurricane Ike; storm now worst on record
More than 607,000 Kentucky electric customers are now without power as a result of this week’s massive ice storm, the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) says.
The storm has now caused the largest power outage on record in Kentucky, exceeding the 600,000 customers who lost power on Sept. 14, 2008, as a result of Hurricane Ike.
As of noon Thursday, utilities under the PSC’s jurisdiction had reported that about 607,152 customers were without power. That figure does not include rural electric cooperatives within the Tennessee Valley Authority system or any municipal utilities.
The outages extend across the entire state, ranging from Ballard County in the west to Boyd County in the east. Telephone, cellular phone, cable and internet service also has been disrupted over much of the state.
Even as restoration efforts get underway, the number of customers without power has continued to climb. Falling trees and tree limbs continue to bring down power lines faster than crews can complete repairs.
Utilities are telling the PSC that outages will extend into next week and beyond. Repair crews from other states have begun arriving in Kentucky to assist with the restoration efforts.
“Because of the severe winter weather conditions, this will be a much more difficult and dangerous restoration task than what we faced following Hurricane Ike,” Governor Steve Beshear said. “That storm did all its damage in 12 hours and was followed by more than a week of ideal weather.”
Governor Beshear added that conditions also are much more difficult for those Kentucky residents who have lost their electric service.
“These conditions are particularly dangerous for residents who normally use electric heat,” he said. “People in homes without heat should find shelter elsewhere if possible. But those who choose to stay in their homes should be very careful when using portable heaters or portable generators.”
PSC Chairman David Armstrong asked Kentuckians to remain patient.
“We understand the frustration that accompanies the loss of a vital service, especially for the second time in less than five months for so many people,” he said. “The utility companies are working hard to restore service as quickly as possible.”
Armstrong stressed that residents should not attempt to remove branches or trees that have fallen across utility lines and those without power should check their service connections and report any damage to their electric company.
“In these kinds of situations, the safety of utility workers and the public should be everyone’s primary concern,” he said.
The PSC is an independent agency attached for administrative purposes to the Energy and Environment Cabinet. It regulates more than 1,500 gas, water, sewer, electric and telecommunication utilities operating in Kentucky and has approximately 100 employees.