Tulsa area residents are being asked to conserve power. The heat has created peak demand and breakdowns at two Tulsa power plants have crippled the utility's ability to keep up with the demand for electricity.
News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says PSO hopes enough people will conserve electricity so it can avoid the next step of their emergency plan - which is to turn off the power on some of their circuits - so the rest of them won't be at risk.
With air conditioners humming - the Tulsa power system operates at its peak, but with problems at a couple of power plants - it's at the breaking point.
PSO says unless peak demand can be cut - it may have to force cutbacks - by cutting off power to entire neighborhood circuits - typically at least 1,000 homes.
AEP-PSO spokesperson Stan Whiteford: "That's a circuit by circuit approach to take off one circuit at a time in one area and we know how much we can gain by doing that, and how much peak demand we can get off of the system by doing that."
PSO has less power available at a time of peak demand because of problems at both the Tulsa plant at 2nd Street on the Arkansas River and the Riverside plant in Jenks. Altogether more than 500 megawatts of power is offline or about 12% of the locally generated power PSO controls.
To prevent forced blackouts - PSO wants customers to cut back for at least a day. "We recognize that may be inconvenient, it may be uncomfortable, but if we could get people to raise their thermostats, we would see a significant drop in demand, enough, most likely to help us get through this time."
The mechanical problems at the two plants couldn't come at a worse time, when summer heat always has people using the most power of the year. It's always a stretch on the system, but with less power available than normal, it threatens to overload the transmission system, especially in areas with older lines. "We expect to be in peak demand all week."
PSO had one of the power plants back up to peak by Monday afternoon and is continuing repairs at the other one. They expect to be back up to full generating capacity Tuesday, but says they always encourage conservation because any day that's over 100 degrees pushes the system to max.