Public Service Commission
Power Restoration Progressing in Eastern Kentucky - 61,455 customers still without power; PSC urges continued caution
Nearly half the customers who lost power during the weekend snow storm have had their electric service restored, according to the latest numbers reported to the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC).
As of 4 p.m. today, utilities under the PSC’s jurisdiction were reporting a total of 61,455 customers still without power. That figure, which is down from a peak of about 116,000, does not include municipal utilities.
Kentucky Power Co. (part of the American Electric Power Co. (AEP) system) reported 51,085 customers without power in 19 counties. More than a third of those – 19,442 - were in Pike County.
Jackson Energy Cooperative had 4,268 customers without power. Kentucky Utilities Co. reported 4,260 customers without power.
In addition to Pike County, counties with substantial outages included Bell (2,035), Breathitt (2.817), Estill (1,000), Floyd (6,767), Harlan (2,060), Johnson (1,001), Knott (4,301), Lawrence (2,043), Leslie (2,898) and Perry (5,343).
Kentucky Power reported that it had more than 1,340 workers engaged in restoration efforts, many of them from other companies in the AEP system.
The peak number of customers reported without power during the storm increased to 116,000 when Licking Valley Rural Electric Cooperative Corp. informed the PSC that between 8,000 and 9,000 of its customers lost power. It was the first report received from Licking Valley.
Most affected utilities are predicting that nearly all customers will have electric service restored with a day or two. Kentucky power, which had the most extensive outages, is predicting full restoration by Sunday.
The PSC is reminding customers still without power to exercise caution when using portable generators or other devices intended to provide temporary power or heat.
“The improper use of portable generators can have lethal results,” PSC Chairman David Armstrong said. “We do not want to see any repetition of the entirely preventable deaths we saw during the ice storm early this year.”
The PSC also is urging residents affected by the ice storm to check electric connections and meters for damage. Damaged connections or meters must be repaired before power can be restored to a home or business.
Falling trees or branches or sagging power lines may have damaged the connections between the utility company’s overhead line and a customer’s electric system. The connections are usually in the form of a masthead – a conduit connected to the service line – or, in older homes, an eyebolt which holds the line in place and an insulated line leading to the meter. In some cases, the meter or meter base may also be damaged.
Once power is restored, damaged connections or meters could pose an electrical or fire hazard if not repaired or if repaired improperly.
“It is critical that damaged connections be repaired by a qualified professional and inspected before power is restored,” Armstrong said.
Repairing a service connection or meter base is the responsibility of the individual customer. The meter base is the square or rectangular box on which the meter itself is mounted. It belongs to the property owner. The meter itself – the circular, glass-enclosed portion that attaches to the meter base - is the property of the utility company.
Customers with damaged connections or meters should take the following steps:
• Notify the utility company that the service connection, meter base and/or meter is damaged. The utility can then make sure that the line is not energized until repairs are completed.
• In the event that only the meter itself is damaged, contact the utility to have it repaired or replaced and your service restored.
• Contact an electrician to repair the meter base or service connection. The repair work can be done prior to power being restored in an area, thus eliminating any additional delays.
• The electrician will obtain the proper meter base from the utility. Some utilities impose no charge for the meter base, but the customer will bear the installation cost.
• Have the repairs inspected by a state-certified inspector working for your local government. The electrician should be able to help arrange the inspection.
• Notify the utility when the repairs are complete and have been approved. A utility technician will install a new meter and restore the power.
• Keep all repair records and contact your property insurer.
Residents SHOULD NOT attempt to remove any branches, limbs or trees that have fallen across service connections or other utility lines. Notify the utility to arrange for the debris to be removed.
The PSC also reminds customers using a generator for temporary electrical power to do so in a manner that insures their safety and the safety of those working to restore power. Keys to safe operation of generators include:
• To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, generators should only be operated outside in well-ventilated areas. Do not operate generators basements, garages, breezeways, near windows, doors, heating system intakes or any location where exhaust fumes could enter a building.
• Make sure a generator is properly sized for the load you will place on it. Remember that starting an electric motor, such a refrigerator compressor, requires more electricity than the amount needed to keep it running. DO NOT OVERLOAD YOUR GENERATOR.
• Use only three-prong, grounded extension cords, properly rated for the load, to connect appliances to generators.
• DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FEED POWER INTO YOUR HOME BY ADAPTING AN EXTENSION CORD TO CONNECT A GENERATOR TO A WALL OUTLET. THIS CAN CAUSE A FIRE.
• DO NOT CONNECT A GENERATOR TO INSIDE WIRING IN ANY WAY UNLESS YOUR HOME OR BUSINESS IS EQUIPPED WITH A TRANSFER SWITCH THAT PREVENTS POWER FROM FLOWING BACK INTO (BACKFEEDING) THE WIRES THAT SUPPLY YOUR ELECTRICITY.
Backfeeding poses a severe danger to workers attempting to restore electrical service. They can be severely injured or killed by power flowing back into lines which they assume are not carrying electricity. Also, if the line to your home or business becomes grounded, backfeeding can permanently damage your generator.
“Despite difficult working conditions, the utilities are making progress toward getting everybody’s power restored,” Armstrong said. “We are urging customers to be patient and, above all, remain safe.”
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.